Eric Bana on Star Trek
By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount
Actors like Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg have the pressure of living up to the legacies of William Shatner, Leonard NImoy, Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelly, George Takei, Walter Koenig and James Doohan. In the new Star Trek, Eric Bana plays a Romulan enemy, but that’s no picnic either.
Eric Bana is Nero
“I think the reality is that, every time you do a film, as an actor, there’s crazy pressure, and I think that pressure comes from within,” Bana said. “It comes from yourself, and taking on external pressure is the biggest creative killer. When I read this script, not only did I want to get involved immediately, but I turned to my wife and I said, ‘The crew of the Starship Enterprise have got the coolest roles for coming-out character performances, ever. I hope they cast these roles well because there’s amazing potential in all of these characters.’ I cockily thought that I would be the freeest because I was playing a villain who’d never been seen before, and the other guys had all this baggage and weight and pressure, and I was completely wrong. All of the crew of the Starship Enterprise have done the most comprehensive, respectful, re-imagining of characters. I think all of them had the hardest job in Hollywood this year, without a doubt, and they’ve done the most incredible job. By the end of the film, I was like, ‘That’s it. That’s them.’ It’s an amazing thing that they’ve done, that they’ve been able to just brush that pressure off, but the reality is that it’s there on every movie.”
Maybe there aren’t as many Romulan groupies, but Bana has had good experiences with Trekkers so far. “I think rabid fans are a bit of a myth, really. I’ve only ever encountered pretty calm, reasonable fans. The <B>Star Trek</B> fans that we’ve come in contact with, the last few weeks, have been unbelievably polite and very excited. I see all that stuff as nothing but a positive. When you go into a film and there’s already an established awareness and fans, whether they’re saying good things or bad things, all that energy is just great. It’s a walk up start for a production to have, that you can’t take for granted, so I see all that stuff as a huge positive. Obviously, the dream come true for us is if, at the end of the second week, they’re all thrilled.”
Either way, Bana faced the pressure bravely. “I wasn’t as scared as my agent was, when he came to the set to visit me. He freaked out. ‘Where’s my actor gone?’ It was a weird thing, at first. I was really excited. It was actually one of the reasons why I wanted to play the part. I could tell, in the script, that I would be unrecognizable, and those opportunities in Hollywood are so rare. It was amazing. The first time you put it on, you realize that you can’t read facial expressions. It just stays still, so initially, as actor, you’re recalibrating. Everything you’ve done before is in the bin because otherwise the audience won’t see your face move at all. You have to push through the prosthetics, as amazing and cutting-edge as they are. The advancements in prosthetics have changed, but they also haven’t. It’s a piece of latex glued onto your head. It was fun. Each morning we’d sit there and get high off the chemicals and, after three hours, go onto the set. We don’t recall much that happened before lunch on the film, but after lunch, I remember some things. It was interesting.”
Bana hopes to join the pantheon of memorable Trek villains like the Borg and Khaaaaaaan. “I think we only love them when they’re good. Hopefully, Nero is a worthwhile adversary for the crew of the Starship Enterprise. That was all that I was interested in because I realized, very early on, that this really is a hero’s movie, not a villain’s movie, but you also need the villain to be strong enough to pose a threat. I think we have to be interested in them because it just makes the drama more dramatic and makes the peril more perilous, and so forth. I think we only love them if they’re good and, if they don’t work, they can just be a bit of a thorn. Hopefully, Nero’s not a thorn.”
Star Trek will open to theaters today.
For the posters, trailers, stills, reviews and additional info, go to the Star Trek Movie Page.
Sources: Images property of Paramount
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