A few words: Biography was written by EBC (see bottom of page for sources). Please refrain from taking the text in whole or in part - a lot of research, sweat, and editing has been put into the bio. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information. However, the information below was gathered from various secondary sources, including magazines, newspapers, and internet articles, so it is important to realize that mistakes can be present. Now, onto the biography...
Biography written by Eric Bana Central
If someone had only seen Eric Bana in "Black Hawk Down" and "The Hulk," that person probably wouldn't know that Eric's American accent isn't real. They probably wouldn't know that Eric's full name isn't quite that simple at all...
Eric Banadinovich was introduced into the world on August 9, 1968 in Melbourne (say Mel-ben), Australia. Eric's brother, Anthony, is three years older. Anthony was was an 'A' student, and an athlete who went to the United States to play basketball. Eric, on the other hand, was the popular class clown and won school talent contests. His German mother (Eleanor) was a hairdresser, and his Croation father (Ivan) was involved in logistics while working at Caterpillar, an American tractor company. As a child, Eric grew up in Melbourne's Tullamarine: "I grew up in Tullamarine and was just an infatuated revhead, and so were all my friends, and that was my upbringing, just very suburban."
After leaving school, Eric traveled and had odd jobs including working for a transport company down on the wharf in Melbourne. At this time in his early twenties, he was "really professionally at a loose end." He wanted to act, but he had no idea on how to pursue it. "I had absolutely no idea how to go about it and I was so bloody arrogant that I had no interest in going to drama school." Other jobs jobs included washing cars at a service station, pushing trolleys at Coles New World, and picking up glasses at a Melbourne pub.
At this Melbourne bar, he was "somehow lured onto the pub's stage to perform a comedy routine." This was the event that sparked his comedic career. "It was a fulfilling feeling to make strangers laugh and I've been hooked ever since!" His comedic talent led to his television debut with a performance on Steve Vizard's "Tonight Live" show. His big television break was in 1993, writing and performing for "Full Frontal," an Australian comedy series (similar to "Saturday Night Live" in the United States). With his impersonations including Ray Martin, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stan Grant and Mike Willesee, audiences howled with laughter. Eric's increasing popularity on "Full Frontal" led to his own special "Eric" in 1996, a collection of sketches with amusing characters. "The Eric Bana Show Live" launched a year later, but the show was soon cancelled for low ratings.
A cancelled show, however, is never the end of the world.
Eric had obvious talent in comedy, and his popularity in the previous television shows led to his feature film debut in 1997's "The Castle." In the film about an Australian family's happy times despite struggles, he played a supporting role as the hilarious Con Petropoulous, a kickboxing accountant.
That same year, Eric married Rebecca Gleeson, former publicist with the Seven Network (home of "Full Frontal"). "I honestly felt as though I'd found the nugget when I met my wife. Without a doubt. I knew in an instant." Presently, they have two children, Klaus and Sophie.
Then, "Chopper" came. The 2000 dramatic independent film featured Eric as Mark "Chopper" Read, one of Australia's most notorious criminals. Read himself decided that Eric would do a good job playing him, saying: "If you stuck a few pounds on [Eric] and give him a crew cut he could almost get away with looking a bit like me." For the role, Eric buffed up 30 pounds, endured extensive tattoo makeup, and gave movie critics something to awe about. Although the film had a limited release, there was enormous underground buzz that led to international acclaim. Eric's stunning performance earned him Best Actor awards at the Australian Film Institute, Stockholm Film Festival, and Film Critics Circle of Australia. "It was everything you could possibly experience in life and a movie, all rolled into one. It was extremely bizarre, extremely exciting, extremely bloody scary, and obviously fraught with all kinds of angst," Eric recalls about the film.
The film that introduced Eric to a large audience was 2001's "Black Hawk Down," a film based on the American siege of Mogadishu, Somalia in October of 1993. Eric trained for the role at Fort Bragg, before spending five months in a dusty outpost in Morocco to shoot the film. He played the role of Norm "Hoot" Hooten, an elite Delta operator. With the rest of the cast, he took on an American accent and physically trained for the role of a soldier. Along with William Fichtner and Nikolaj Waldau, Eric trained at Fort Bragg and received detailed instructions on weapons. Trainers included Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat course instructors, and the actors even had to fight their way against an opposing force to reach a fictional helicopter crash site. The film was a critical and blockbuster success, which was a impressive way to start off a Hollywood career.
The calming antidote for the grueling "Black Hawk Down" shoot was shortly afterwards. Eric bulked up his filmography in "The Nugget," an Australian comedy about three road workers who discover the world's biggest gold nugget. "I read the script and pretty much as I finished filming 'Chopper,' I read it and felt like a child again. I felt like I had read an old book that had taken me back to my childhood and made me feel something that I couldn't quite explain that touched me very deeply. I was quite choked by the story when I read it." In 2003, Eric also had a part in Pixar's computer animated "Finding Nemo," lending his voice for Anchor, a wannabe vegetarian hammerhead shark.
Things are looking good. Also, remember that "Chopper" film in 2000? Fortunately for Eric and the world, director Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and the producers for the soon-to-be film called "The Hulk" were facinated by Eric's rage-filled performance. They had found Bruce Banner, the mild-mannered scientist that transforms into a green giant when angered. On Lee casting him as the lead for the 2003 film, "I was obviously humbled by it and flattered, but it actually gave me a lot of confidence because it made me think that there was a reason why heís chosen me, and without knowing that reason, Iíll just go in and do the work and give everything I can." After wrapping up "The Hulk," Eric spent nine months at home with his family.
In April of 2003, production for "Troy" began. For this epic film directed by Wolfgang Peterson and inspired by Homer's "The Illiad," Eric played Hector, leader of the Trojan forces battling against Achilles (played by Brad Pitt). For the film, Eric sported a bushy little beard, rode bareback horses, and intensively trained for the demanding fight scenes. He told Entertainment Weekly that "you couldn't have bluffed your way through. It takes a lot of bloody arrogance even with six months' preparation." Released mid-May in 2004, "Troy" smashed the box office at #1 with $45.6 million its first weekend. Since production for the film wrapped for Eric a few days before Christmas, he then returned back to Australia to spend time with his family.
A self-proclamined "revhead" (also known as "petrol-head" in Australia, "motor-head" in the United States), Eric is completely interested in cars and motorcycles; he's been a "lover of all things automotive since a child" and he's been racing cars for a long time. His first car was an old XB Coupe, purchaced for $1000 when he was 15. He's no stranger to the track, either - he made his motorsport debut in 1996's Targa Tasmania, driving that same 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe. Other competitions include the 2002 and 2003 Classic Adelaide. "I've enjoyed many exciting hours on my 900cc Ducati motorcycle around the Sandown and Phillip Island tracks. Sydney racer Ron Goodman has kindly let me drive his NASCAR around the Calder Park Thunderdome." How many cars does he exactly have? Less than eight.
At the moment, Eric wears two rings on his hands: one gold, one silver. The gold ring on his left hand is his wedding ring, and the silver ring was the "first thing my wife bought me when we were dating. It's a big silver ring with coraggio engraved in it, which is Italian for courage." He certainly does have courage - from comedy to the big screen, Eric will be aweing audiences for a long, long time.
Isn't he cool?
Sources: The Comedy Channel, IOFilm, NineMSN, Sunday Morning Herald, Targa Tasmania, USA Today
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