Eric Bana embraces horror in 'Deliver Us from Evil'

Eric Bana (Handout)

Eric Bana (Handout)

Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:23 PM ET

Australian Eric Bana’s currency as an actor is his versatility.

Not to mention his dark good looks.

So playing a real-life tough guy, in this case Bronx police sergeant-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie in Deliver Us From Evil, opening Wednesday, was like putting another major notch on his performance belt.

“He was certainly a lot of fun to play,” Bana told reporters. “I grew up on your police shows. So it was a bit of a childhood fantasy.”

Bana, a longtime car and motorcycle racing enthusiast and mechanic, told QMI Agency he and Sarchie spent most days on set “talking motorcycles. He’s not as crazy as I am about it. But he’s always ridden and was once a member of a gang so it was quite interesting.”

Otherwise, the role of Sarchie, as envisioned by screenwriter-director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange) and based on Sarchie’s 2001 book, Beware The Night, had a “heavy, violent, brooding quality... but at the same time there is something regular and dismissive about him,” said the actor.

“And there’s a point at which he’s forced to consider that there’s this whole alternate existence of evil. I was attracted to that because it’s pretty good for the audience and good for me personally ‘cause I’m a pessimistic person.”

The actor, whose wide-ranging credits include playing the title role in Ang Lee’s Hulk, a Mossad agent in Munich, and the Star Trek villain Nero, says it was some “very confronting and uncomfortable” footage of a real-life exorcism provided by Sarchie that ultimately made him rethink some of his prior beliefs.

His co-star Olivia Munn, who plays Sarchie’s wife Jen, told reporters he couldn’t sleep for three weeks afterwards but he tells QMI Agency “that’s obviously an exaggeration. It probably affected my sleep for a good week. That’s more than enough!”

Now, he told reporters: “I’m more open to that idea that (evil) can exist... I was kind of a bit dismissive of it beforehand.”

On top of that, the film’s makeup-special effects department “had some truly scary things occur,” said Bana. “They had a ghost in their workshop. There’s absolutely no doubt... There were people walking around, moving stuff in their workshop in the middle of the night when there was no one there... On the set, there was occasional weird stuff with phone and lights but I never saw it.”

The actor, who began his career as a writer-performer on the Australian sketch comedy series Full Frontal, has acted in the Adam Sandler-Seth Rogen 2009 comedy Funny People, but mostly he’s been cast in Hollywood dramas.

“In reality, I sort of dug a little hole for myself and I’ve got to be happy about that because not everyone gets to reinvent themselves,” Bana told QMI Agency. “When I came here and I got a start, getting really interesting serious roles, I was respectful of that. And I didn’t allow my ego to stand up and say, ‘Hang on a second America! I’m going to show you this!’ I just went, ‘Just shut up. You’ve had enough of that. You did that for 12 years. You had a great career back home. There’s plenty of stuff on YouTube if somebody wants to go looking for it.’ I just try to let that go. But obviously, when I work with people like Joel McHale (who plays his wisecracking police partner in Deliver Us From Evil) and Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, I go, ‘Oh, my God, this is so much fun.’ It doesn’t have to be excruciatingly painful all the time.”

Bana, who directed the 2009 documentary Love The Beast about his beloved car, also says he’ll never try to combine his love of speed with movie making.

“The perfect way to do it is to keep it completely separate,” he told QMI Agency. “I could think of nothing worse than coming to work and somebody telling me I can’t ride a motorcycle because of insurance. I go and race when I’m not working... They’re would be nothing more boring than me than doing a car movie.”

And so far, he has no plans to write something for himself.

“I should,” he told QMI Agency. “I shouldn’t be so lazy. I mean I’ve got a couple of ideas and I’ve directed a documentary and I’d like to do something else again at some point whether it be narrative or documentary, I don’t know.”

But nothing specifically Australian he says: “No, I’m not that nationalistic.”

Otherwise, he has no plans to move from Melbourne to L.A.

“That’s home. If home was here, I’d live here,” he told reporters. “I’m the idiot. I’m the one that has to spend half my life on the plane so that’s about the only downside.”

“Dad, husband and mechanic, that’s my role at home,” Bana elaborated later with QMI Agency. “It’s not only my sanity, it’s the reality. I don’t do a lot of films. I don’t work back-to-back so I spend my time between being in the workshop and working on cars and motorcycles and reading scripts until I find something that I love then off I go again.”

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

 


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