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Troy - It was more a matter of going through the process of convincing myself that I could walk in Hector's shoes...



Feature by: Jack Foley

AUSTRALIAN actor, Eric Bana, looks certain to walk away with the lion’s 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 Pitt’s Achilles, in one of the epic’s 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 Scott’s Black Hawk Down, before headlining The Hulk, for Ang Lee’s 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 to make.

"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 big family.

"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."

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