Eric Bana has found his voice – but don’t ask him to sing

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“I can’t sing, and I can’t dance, so there are limits here.”

Although he may not have a singing voice, Bana has a very distinctive voice. And that’s what hits you when you listen The orchard – and it seems absurd to say it – is Bana’s broad Australian accent. It’s not quite complete Sound weight Fast forward days, it’s just that you don’t hear him often when he’s playing. After all, he’s only made five Australian films – The castle, Chopper, The nugget, The dry and Romulus, my father – over the past 24 years or so. And only one American film, Funny people, where he kept his accent.

Bana (middle) in The Nugget, with Stephen Curry (left) and Dave O’Neil, one of the few Australian films he’s starred in.

For the rest, it’s either American generic (Black hawk down), raucous superhero / villain (Pontoon, Star Trek), pan-European standard (Hanna) or historic British (The other Boleyn girl, King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword).

“Every time I go to work I have to do a different accent,” he says. “You make either someone from England or America. So the idea of ​​being Australian isn’t even an option for us 99 percent of the time. [Americans] are always shocked, especially at the start of every press conference, and I walked into the room and started talking. For a long, long time, I was doing talk shows and most people thought I was American or British. They didn’t know I was Australian.

He never hid his accent, despite the advice of Anthony LaPaglia, who told him that it was much easier to go to meetings with an American accent because that way they didn’t have to “fill in the gaps.” of his sound, which is nice. genius “.

“I just wish there were more Australian characters in the movies,” he says. “I’ve been making noise about this for a million years. It’s completely ridiculous that the world is inhabited by millions of Australians, and they just never appear in a movie, unless it’s an Australian movie.

Eric Bana as an Australian Federal Police detective who returns to his hometown to investigate an apparent murder-suicide in The Dry.

Eric Bana as an Australian Federal Police detective who returns to his hometown to investigate an apparent murder-suicide in The Dry.

He decided to do The orchard for the challenge of having only your voice to lean on.

“There is simply no other tool to rely on other than the incredible soundscape designed,” he says. “We don’t have a choice of lenses, indoor cameras, facial reactions and so on.

“So you approach it the same way you film because you have a narrative, and you break down all the episodes and work out the journey, and how you want to approach it, but then you have to have nothing. other than the microphone to work. It is a wonderful challenge and exercise as an actor.

This is the second cop Bana plays in a row, after this year’s thriller The dry, in which he played a city brass returning to his hometown to solve a murder. At 53, does that mean he’s entered the grizzled cop phase of his career?

“I’ve never done enough cops in my career,” he jokes. “There is a lot of room to move, however, a lot of room to move.”

A lot of female actresses are told they are aging out of roles, does that ever happen to guys?

“Things are changing there, but in a good way,” he says. “Whereas before you read a script and they started talking about someone who was 25, now you suddenly realize that you are going to play that person’s father, you are not going to play that. guy. You are the other character [that’s going] appear.”

Does that mean he’s now officially a silver fox?

“Well, I don’t really have a choice,” he laughs. “I’m not a black haired fox, I won’t be doing it anytime soon. It will be the silver fox or nothing for me.

When it comes to choosing roles, Bana tries to be open, but he is careful not to play any type of violent character again. “I am very careful with who I work with,” he says. “So if I’m going to go down that road, I’m really doing due diligence to the director. I am very careful who I tell these stories to.

So, must that be the right kind of murderer?

“It’s true,” he laughs. “The right kind of murder with the right kind of director and writer.”

Comedy isn’t out of place either, though the choices have been slim. The last one he did, Special correspondents in 2016 it was with Ricky Gervais, in which Gervais was able to keep his British accent but Bana, you guessed it, had a fried southern American accent.

Bana in Munich, one of the films he considers his favorite.

Bana in Munich, one of the films he considers his favorite.

“I can’t say my stack of comedies is as thick as my stack of dramas,” he says. “I’m not mad about it. It’s like that. I am very happy with the things that are offered to me. But yeah, I would definitely be open to more comedy if it was more on offer, that’s for sure. “

OK, so here’s my pitch: What about a sung and danced comedy? Surely it is tempting?

“Or a psychopath who sings and dances,” he laughs. “Now we are getting somewhere. I could be a bad singer and a bad dancer but still a psychopath or a sociopath. Now you got me.

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Bana has been at home in Melbourne for a few years and is in no rush to return overseas. He flew to Western Australia earlier this year to shoot a small role in Robert Connolly’s upcoming project, blue back, adapted from a novel by Tim Winton, and is still tinkering with the script for a planned film about the British motorcycle champion of the 1960s-1970s Mike “The Bike” Hailwood.

Does he have a favorite movie of his?

“Of course I have a favorite,” he says. “I never say publicly. To be honest there are probably five or six that I can’t separate from each other that have been such amazing experiences and, you know, this is also the time in your life that you do them, them. people you work with and topics. There’s probably one that’s my favorite as a movie buff to watch and then there’s some that are super special because of what it was like to work.

It is a diplomatic response but much too vague. Come on Eric, can you just throw a crumb at that pigeon?

“Well, I’m going to throw two over there. I can confirm it The dry and Munich are definitely in this group.

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It’s been a while since he looked Munich – in which he plays a Mossad agent leading a mission to assassinate the 11 Palestinians responsible for the deaths of 11 members of the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympics in Germany – but he will observe another, Black hawk down, if he changes the channel.

“This film still today is the one that will stop me for five minutes,” he said. “Because every scene is just someone amazing, someone absolutely amazing. So, Black hawk down I can get hooked for five or 10 minutes because I’m just watching friends at work.

Speaking of, um, my friends, is he sure that Hugh Jackman can’t help him with his musical ambitions?

“I think I would be out of his scope,” he laughs. “I don’t think he can do much with me at all.”

The orchard, an Audible Original podcast, is released on September 9.

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