Eric Bana was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1968, the son of a Croatian father and German mother. The compact, handsome performer began performing comedy in 1991 while working as a barman at Melbourne's Castle hotel in 1991. He quickly become a star in his native Australia with his stand-up routines and his appearances on various TV series including "Full Frontal" and his own eponymous show.
Within two years, Bana had progressed to being featured on television. Although his sharp wit and skills as a sketch comic had some calling him the next breakout Australian star, he was relegated to a supporting role in his feature film debut in "The Castle" (1997) and a featured part in the Australian drama series "Something in the Air" (2000).
Then came "Chopper" (2000), the somewhat fanciful biography of one of Australia's most notorious figures. Bana gained some 30 pounds, shaved his head and underwent extensive makeup daily to cover his body in tattoos to transform into Mark Read, a cult celebrity thanks to a best-selling memoir. In addition, the actor did extensive research for the role, including interviewing the subject. While the resultant feature divided critics and audiences -- some felt it was an intelligent and thought-provoking portrait of the criminal mind, while others decried the depiction of such a charismatic killer -- few could dispute the power and skill of Bana's central performance. He earned near unanimous praise for his skillful, compelling work and picked up several accolades, including the Best Actor citation from the Australian Film Institute.
Even before the international release of "Chopper", Bana had determined to leave "Something in the Air" and concentrate on an international career. Ridley Scott tapped him to portray an American sergeant in the contemporary war drama "Black Hawk Down" (2001), about the conflict between US forces and Somalis during a humanitarian mission.
Those who had scoffed at the late 90s prediction that Bana would be
the next big thing from Down Under perhaps would come to regret their
derision, particularly in light of his being cast in the coveted role
of Dr. Bruce Banner in the Ang Lee-directed adaptation of "The
Incredible Hulk" (2003). Next is a part in Troy (2004) alongside
Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom.
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