Eric Bana had become a star in his native Australia with his stand-up routines and his appearances on various TVseries including "Full Frontal" and his own eponymous show.
The compact, handsome performer of Croatian and German ancestry began performing comedy in 1991 at a local bar inMelbourne. Within two years, Bana had progressed to being featured on television. Although his sharp wit and skills asa sketch comic had some calling him the next breakout Australian star, he was relegated to a supporting role in hisfeature film debut in The Castle (1997) and a featured part in the Australian drama series "Something in the Air"beginning in 2000.
Then came Chopper, the somewhat fanciful biography of one of Australia's most notorious figures. Bana gained some 30pounds, shaved his head and underwent extensive makeup daily to cover his body in tattoos to transform into MarkRead, a cult celebrity thanks to a best-selling memoir. In addition, the actor did extensive research for the role, includinginterviewing the subject.
While the resultant feature divided critics and audiences -- some felt it was an intelligent and thought-provokingportrait of the criminal mind, while others decried the depiction of such a charismatic killer-- few could dispute thepower and skill of Bana's central performance. He earned near unanimous praise for his skillful, compelling work andpicked 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 concentrateon an international career. Ridley Scott tapped him to portray an American sergeant in the contemporary war dramaBlack 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 perhapswould come to regret their derision, particularly in light of his being cast in the coveted role of Dr. Bruce Banner in theAng Lee-directed adaptation of The Incredible Hulk (2003).
Following in the tradition of Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana crossed the Pacific Ocean to try totranslate his Aussie popularity into Hollywood megastardom. An unknown to American audiences, Bana dominatedthe screen in 2001's war epic Black Hawk Down, stealing the spotlight from established Hollywood stars like EwanMcGregor and Josh Hartnett.
This stellar performance led to his casting in the big screen adaptation of comic-book hero The Hulk as well as the epicIlliad adaptation Troy as Hector.
With these blockbuster in his future, Bana appears to be headed for great things.