Eric Bana longs to live in a world where writers, producers and directors understand that people born in Australia live in other parts of the world. As long as they cling to their ideas, the Aussie actor will have to continue to use other accents in his film roles.
"I understand in a movie like 'Troy' I couldn't use my regular voice," says Bana, whose Australian heritage is clear when he speaks. "I envy actors who just have to show up and act. They don't have to keep thinking about whether they are keeping the accent. Unfortunately, it looks like this is always going to be part of the job."
His latest accented role, "Closed Circuit," has Bana playing a British bannister assigned to defend a man accused of masterminding a bombing that killed 120 people. Because the character is bitter and a bit of a jerk, Bana had to find just the right tone to make the character sound posh, proper and pompous.
It's a good thing that Bana's always had a good ear for accents. Back when he was working on the Australian sketch comedy show "Full Frontal," Bana did impersonations of celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise. He says if you don't believe it, many of those impersonations are on YouTube.
Through the years, Bana has changed his voice — often to an American accent — in movies like "Black Hawk Down," "The Time Traveler's Wife," "Hulk," "Munich," "Hannah" and "Star Trek."
It wasn't just the British accent that Bana had to get right for "Close Circuit."
"I married into a legal family, so there was a lot of pressure," Bana says.
The combination of conversations he's heard around the dinner table and his knowledge of the legal system helped him play the role. It was also a bonus that in many ways, those who argue in court have a certain degree of actor in them.
Bana liked the script because his character never transforms into an action hero to save the day. When he saw some rewrites midway through the film appeared to be amping up the physicality of the role, Bana talked with director John Crowley, who assured him the changes would not seem out of the ordinary. He trusted his director and the role stayed true to the original course.
Finding a good script is vital to Bana. He says nothing — even the chemistry he has with co-star Rebecca Hall — would matter if the right words aren't on the page.
Because of his career choice, Bana opens himself up to more public attention. He considers it lucky that while he gets more turns of the head than the average person, he doesn't get the unending attention that many other actors face.
Bana continues to roll up credits that could make him more recognizable. In his next movie, "Beware the Night," Bana plays a Bronx cop. Yes, that means another job where he has to split his focus between acting and accents.
He can't even catch a break when he goes back down under.
"I shot a movie in Australia, but I played a Hungarian immigrant," Bana says.
Bee critic Rick Bentley's review of "Closed Circuit" published in Wednesday's Life section to coincide with the movie's opening. You can read the review at fresnobee.com/movie- reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.