If there’s one single actor who will be able to walk away from the summer of 2009 with a feather in his cap having achieved something worth being proud of, it would be Eric Bana, the Australian actor who first came to attention with his starring role in Andrew Dominik’s crime-comedy Chopper almost ten years ago, but never quite achieved the attention he’s deservedly getting this summer.
First, he played the main bad guy Nero in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, the highest-grossing movies in the franchise, and he played a rare comedic role in Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler’s comedy Funny People. He also made his directorial debut this summer with Love the Beast, a documentary about the love he had for his very first car and how he souped it up for a very special cross-country race. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews.
Now, he’s co-starring with Rachel McAdams in The Time Traveler’s Wife, a science fiction-tinged romantic drama based on Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 book about the romance between Henry, a man who jumps through time without being able to control when he leaves and when he ends up, and Clare, the pretty young woman who falls in love with him by meeting him on various time jaunts and hopes to be the rock that will allow Henry to stay in one time. Directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan), it is a surprisingly intelligent and thought-provoking movie about love and what it takes to endure a seemingly impossible relationship.
ComingSoon.net was given the opportunity to sit down with Bana and talk about the movie and some of the other things going on with him in this extremely busy summer he’s having.
CS: I feel like it’s a great time to talk to you because you’ve been having an amazing summer, between “Star Trek,” and your role in “Funny People,” which I thought was a breakthrough for you to be returning to comedy. I think everyone’s surprised by “Time Traveler’s Wife,” because it’s a tough adaptation but it’s actually a really good movie. I think most people would normally ask you “Why did you do this movie?” but in this case, it’s really obvious: A great premise, a lovely co-star in Rachel… so was it hard to convince them you were right to play the part? How did you playing this role come about?
CS: How long was the actual shoot? It was probably a year ago now that you did it, so was it a long shoot?
CS: I was curious how it fit in with all the other movies that just came out.
CS: Did you feel any pressure for playing this character, since so many women have loved this book?
CS: But with “Star Trek” you weren’t playing a character anyone would have known. That was a new character.
CS: Do you feel the same way about remakes? I know you haven’t really done any of your own, but a lot of people who love certain movies are really against them being remade. Do you feel the same way?
CS: If someone asked you to do “Mad Max,” would you want to do it? You were kind of a fan of those movies, right?
CS: You’ve been doing interviews joined at the hip with Rachel the last few days, so I wanted to ask you about her now that she’s not here. Bruce the writer was talking about her amazing presence on screen and it’s really true. She has presence on screen that both men and women completely fall for her. Is that something in her personality that just automatically comes out on screen or is that part of her skills as an actress?
CS: Had you seen any of her movies before and got that feeling Bruce was describing? It’s hard to describe and understand exactly what it is, but you get it when you watch her in movies.
CS: It’s a strange thing because it’s not like you could look at previous actresses and say, “She has the same characteristics of this actress or that” either.
CS: The time travel aspect of the movie is interesting and time travel in general is a difficult thing to convey in any medium. Did you have any sort of map or diagram or timeline to know where you were in the story in terms of playing the different ages and jumping in and out of time?
CS: What’s he like as a director? He seems to have a great sense of humor.
CS: Do you have any idea what you’re doing next? You just finished this run of movies.
CS: Do you know if J.J. wants to have you back for “Star Trek 2”?
CS: No, but we know that Nero is a time traveler, so there’s no real way to get rid of him. He can just come back from the future, can’t he?
CS: Gotcha. I hate to bring up “Hulk,” because that seems like that was a part of another life. It doesn’t feel like Ed Norton is into continuing which seems strange. Do you think there’s a chance Marvel might come back to you or you’d be interested in returning to the role if it made sense to have you back?
CS: That’s a no, from your own viewpoint?
CS: One of the things I got out of talking to Judd last week was that he always tells the people he works with to write their own material. You’ve done so many things and played so many different roles, but what he’s saying is very clear: “If you want to take the reins of your own career, you’ll write your own material.” Is that something you’ve explored at all?
CS: How did you fit into that environment with Seth and Adam and Judd throwing out lines? Was it very easy to get back into that comedy brain?
CS: What about your documentary, “Love the Beast,” do you have any idea if that might come out soon?
CS: Speaking of that, I wanted to ask you–because you obviously have a love of cars and driving that we see in that documentary–would you ever be interested in being in the biopic of a race car driver or anything that brings those two loves together? Or are you deliberately trying to keep them separate?
CS: Well, that takes you out of the running to play “Mad Max” then, I guess. What about aspirations for directing and doing more projects as a filmmaker?
The Time Traveler’s Wife comes out on Friday, August 14.