A popular and easygoing Australian comedian whose keen adaptability lent itself well to aggressive-oriented early film roles, Eric Bana's hatred of firearms may seem ironic in contrast to the Aussie funnyman's fledgling film portrayals of real-life mass murderer (and popular cult celebrity figure in the land Down Under) Mark "Chopper" Read (Chopper ) and a military man caught in heated battle on a rescue mission (Black Hawk Down ).
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Bana's career as a comedian began while working as a bartender at his native city's Castle Hotel in 1991. Television offers began flowing in a few short years later, and in 1993, Bana took his sharp wit to the small screen as he assumed the roles of both writer and performer on one of Australia's top comedy programs, Full Frontal. His star on the rise, the increasingly popular comedian made audiences laugh even harder when he co-produced and starred in his own 1996 comedy special Eric (later to become a series) and kicked off The Eric Bana Show Live the following year. 1997 proved to be a busy year for Bana as he also made his feature debut in The Castle, though all of his hard work would pay off when he took a feature role in Australian television's Something in the Air in 2000 and was voted Australia's Most Popular Comedy Performer at the Logies.
Though up to this point Bana had taken his native land by storm, his international star had yet to shine. All of this would change with the turn of the new millennium, the year that Bana took on his most demanding role to date, that of notorious Aussie author/murderer Mark "Chopper" Read in Chopper (2000). Gaining approximately 30 pounds and having his body covered in tattoos to resemble Read were only part of the exhaustingly extensive lengths that Bana and director Andrew Dominik went to provide an accurate and colorful portrayal of the charismatic criminal. Aside from years of research into Read's life, Bana would live with the man himself for two days in order to understand his uniquely skewed perspective on life. Winning almost unanimous international acclaim for his sometimes shocking, sometimes humorous and always fascinating portrayal of Read, Hollywood was soon calling for Bana, and he answered by accepting a role in the tense true story of the Battle of Mogadishu, Black Hawk Down.
Winning the coveted title role in director Ang Lee's eagerly anticipated live-action version of The Hulk and lending his pipes to the star-studded voice-cast of Finding Nemo, Bana's talent seemed to finally be getting the international attention that Australia had recognized all along. And while The Hulk failed to be quite the blockbuster many had hoped for, Bana's star continued to rise with a role opposite Brad Pitt in the 2004 epic Troy. Bana followed that as Avner, the head of the squadron assigned to avenge the murder of Israeli athletes at the 172 Olympics in Steven Spielberg's excellent Munich. He then showcased his range by playing opposite Drew Barrymore in the Curtis Hanson film Lucky You. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi