Eric Bana on terrorism: 'There's no doubt we're not protected in our own cities anymore'

Despite an action role in Troy, and playing a Star Trek villain, Eric Bana tells Emma Jones he prefers characters with psychological depth – like the lawyer in meltdown in his latest movie

Eric Bana is a man who knows about the male mid-life crisis. It is though, he says, purely for research – even if he, as a 45-year-old married father of two, would be considered a prime candidate for one himself.

In Bana's latest movie, a made-in-Britain video surveillance thriller, Closed Circuit, directed by Intermission's John Crowley and co-starring Rebecca Hall, the actor plays barrister Martin Rose, asked to defend the arguably indefensible – a suspect accused of bombing a busy London street. Rose may be, as Bridget Jones would put it, “a top human rights lawyer”, but according to Bana, “however clever or cool-headed he seems, he's a man in meltdown, it's a real middle-aged crisis. I loved it.”

Cool-headed and clever seem like good descriptions for this Australian as well. Definitely not middle-aged. Tall and angular, Bana's almost black eyes give him the look of a serious man indeed, and that's backed up his film roles – the villain Nero in 2009's Star Trek, scientist Bruce Banner in Ang Lee's Hulk, intense Mossad agent Avner Kaufman in 2005's Munich. Even as Hector in Wolfgang Petersen's often-maligned epic Troy in 2004, he was serious older brother to Orlando Bloom's primping Paris.

That would be misleading though, because there's a wry friendliness to Bana, after, he says, “a day of sitting here in New York with the American press trying to compare this film to the Boston marathon bombing. There's a certain topicality about it, but although I was very unsettled when I heard about those events, I didn't think, 'I've just been filming this story in London'. However, there's no doubt we're not protected in our own cities anymore, and this year has been a bit of a wake-up call for us all.” He laughs and seems relieved when asked instead on how he's avoiding his own mid-life crisis. “Do things with your hands, ”he replies immediately. “No, not like that. Have a good hobby. Cars are mine. Hobbies are a great distraction if you're a guy, whether it's riding bikes or spending time in a garage. I think that using our hands is undervalued in our society and it's actually very important, very therapeutic.”

“Doing things with my hands”, has helped give him stability, swerve away from distractions. Married for 16 years to Australian publicist Rebecca Gleeson – herself a lawyer's daughter – they have two children, Klaus and Sophia. They live in “my favourite city in the world, Melbourne. We keep it simple – I'll do around one movie a year, and the rest of the time I'm home.”

If, of course, his wife can get him out of the garage. Growing up in Melbourne, young Eric wanted to be a mechanic and got into racing cars as a teenager – and he participates in competitions to this day. He still owns his first car, a 1974 XB Ford Falcon. He would, he says, have made cars into his career, had he not been advised “not to make my hobby into a job. And I guess this one's turned out alright.

“To me working on a car is like gardening,” he adds passionately, “it's no different, and that kind of thing is important to me. It's not the thrill-seeking, it's doing something different, using another skill set. At all stages of life it's very important to have something that isn't work that keeps you busy.”

For this reason, he adds, no matter what the film offers,“ you'll never see me doing a car chase in a movie or anything that really involves driving. It would frustrate the hell out of me to have an assistant director or a stuntman trying to tell me what to do. I'd think I'd know better.”

Bana seems to apply this simplicity to all his choices. He famously turned down options to do a sequel to Hulk, his first big breakthrough role, not because of its mixed reviews, but because “it wasn't fun, it was the opposite. It was un-fun.” Bana likes fun, after all – he started off acting on an Australian TV comedy sketch show Full Frontal. But perhaps too, this decision-making process has led to some critics carping that he didn't quite realise his potential after a stunning film debut in 2000 in Andrew Dominik's Chopper, about real-life criminal Mark “Chopper” Read. Black Hawk Down and Hulk followed, as did Troy. Does he still want to be a leading man?

“Well, I've never considered myself as a leading man at all,” he replies. “That is one pit I have absolutely no interest in climbing into. Certainly, I've never seen myself as an action star. I fired a gun in Munich, big deal. And then I played a scientist in Hulk, the computers did all the rest. It was a lot of standing around, it was the antithesis of action. Hector in Troy would be the only action role I've ever done, and I've never regretted that, too many people saw the movie and it's been really important to me.

“But psychological thrillers like Closed Circuit or Hanna are my favourite roles to do, actually. They're rare to find as they're not always easy to fund. Yet the public line up to see them.”

Bana declares that he's not even sure if he's seen The Avengers, the billion-dollar-grossing superhero blockbuster that featured Mark Ruffalo in the role of The Hulk. “I would consider doing another superhero film I guess, but it would depend entirely on the role I'm offered. I'd only do films that I'd want to see myself, that's my rule, and what I get sent these days is much more character-driven.

“I'm happy with that, I don't ever want to think I've got acting licked. But I always try to wait until I've finished shooting one thing until I'll look at the next thing. I have this ability to get on a plane and go home and forget all about the movie I've just done. It's great.” Bana may not have acting sorted, but he seems to have life licked.

'Closed Circuit' is released on 25 October

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week