Feature by: Jack Foley
AUSTRALIAN actor, Eric Bana, looks certain to walk away with
the lions share of the credit for his portrayal as Hector,
in Troy, but The Hulk star confessed
to having second thoughts about being able to do the role justice.
Speaking at the London press conference for the film, held at
The Dorchester Hotel on Friday last week (May 7, 2004), the star
dismissed any notion that his reluctance had anything to do with
the quality of the script.
"It was more about self-belief and stuff," he explained.
"I mean, I read the script and thought it would be the opportunity
of a lifetime, and thought it was the greatest thing I'd ever
read, so it was more a matter of going through the process of
convincing myself that I could walk in Hector's shoes.
"I mean, that's a thing that no one can help you with. You
can learn how to fight, you can learn how to ride a horse, and
you can have a great cast and a great director, but if you don't
really believe that you can be that arrogant, you're not going
to be able to pull it off."
Having convinced himself, though, Bana began the arduous process
of preparing for the physical demands of the role, including his
almighty tussle with Brad Pitts Achilles, in one of the
epics most thrilling sequences.
The fight in question comes towards the end of the movie, as
Achilles bids to avenge the death of a loved one, and it was one
of the most keenly-anticipated aspects of the shoot, as both actors
were required to complete the sequence without using a stunt double.
"It was a scene that was really revered through the whole
shoot," recalled Bana. "I mean, Wolfgang would talk
about it all the time, Brad and I would talk about it all the
time, and it was obviously a daily thing, because Brad and I were
training for it, literally every day if we weren't shooting.
"It took us about eight months, during the production of
the film, to learn it, and get it into our bodies, and then when
it came time to shoot it, it was a wonderful experience.
"It was the very last thing that we shot on the movie, and
it was the last week on the film, so we were really excited and
pumped up, and were absolutely so ready when it came to it.
"One of the greatest things that we had said to us was by
Simon Crane, the fight director, while we were sitting down, which
was: "Unless you're totally ready to kill each other, do
not even get up off the chairs, because that is the level of intensity
that we need in the fight, and anything else is a wasted take,
and a waste of your energy."
"And he was right. It was just about pumping up the adrenaline,
in the heat, and absolutely going for it. And it was just the
most satisfying thing to do."
Needless to say, both stars picked up their fair share of bruises,
but, as Bana candidly states, there's no way you can get
a fight to look like that without injuring each other a bit
- and the effort was worth it.
Bana has come a long way since making his big screen breakthrough
in Chopper, an Australian independent feature about the infamous
murderer, Mark Chopper Read.
But his performance was such that the former stand-up comedian
quickly became noticed, and he quickly landed a high-profile role
in Ridley Scotts Black
Hawk Down, before headlining The Hulk,
for Ang Lees monster smash of last year.
But while Troy marks his second major Summer blockbuster, he
maintains the experience of filming it was very different from
The Hulk, which felt distinctly small by comparison.
"The Hulk felt like a very small-scale production for me,
because, obviously, I wasn't involved in the CGI stuff, so I was
doing very intimate scenes with one or two other actors in a very
small set - it actually weirdly didn't feel like a very huge film
"This, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. The role
was a lot more fun, because The Hulk was so introspective, and
about hiding things and not doing things, whereas, in this case,
I got to do everything every boy dreams of doing."
As for working with such a massive ensemble, the star adds, fondly:
"It's the best, because you do feel like you're part of a
"We all felt so incredibly lucky to be working with each
other, and it was absolutely no accident that he [Wolfgang Petersen]
got the chemistry that he did. I know a lot of it had to do with
Wolfgang's hand-picking of everyone.
"Everyone had something in common, they all knew their character
was important, and that if you worked with Wolfgang Petersen,
he would know, even on such an epic scale, how important everyone's
moment was. Everyone knew when it was their moment, and when it
wasn't. And that's a great gift."