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Eric Bana on Funny People

Published July 22, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures
Funny People Funny People

Eric Bana got to show his true self in Funny People. He’s actually a comedian, though Americans only know him from dramas like Hulk, Munich and Troy. And he gets to use his true Australian voice.

Leslie Mann Talks Funny People


“Originally, he was American,” Bana said. “The character was pretty similar but he was American. I just during conversations with Judd [Apatow] and Barry [Mendel] the producer, I just said, 'I think I can make him more interesting if he's Australian. There's no real reason for him to stay American.’ Judd was open to that and I promised him he'd be just as good if not funnier if he was Australian.”

Being Aussie in the film also meant he added his real obsession with “footie” to the film. “I live and breathe my club and the film has great irony because right now we're 15 and 0 so this is gonna be our year. In about three hours we play the Adelaide Crows so I'm gonna have to duck out of here. We had footie clinics on the set. I think, for the DVD, I had to teach the producer and a couple of other people how to kick the ball and put them up to speed with the game but I do that on every film. I try to introduce the game of Australian rules football.”

The film about standup comedians does not cast Bana as a stage performer, but rather the new husband of George Simmons (Adam Sandler)’s ex-girlfriend (Leslie Mann). When an ailing Simmons visits his old flame, hubby coming home creates some tension.

Funny People Funny People


“Normally, characters are given a certain amount of material that ensures that they are kind of morally okay with the audience. There are all these elements that are given to actors when you're playing a couple or a relationship to make sure the chemistry is right. Leslie and I were give the exact opposite right from the get-go and I remember thinking, 'If there is an semblance of this couple loving each other in this film, that would be the greatest acting triumph of my career’ because you've got all these elements that are the exact opposite of what you're normally given to convince the audience that you're in love and I loved that. I thought that was a huge challenge and even thought I knew a lot of the stuff was crazy and ridiculous and funny, at the same time, I was very conscious of the fact that it was really important to the film that you really believe that these two people loved each other and I think it worked. I think, by the end, somehow, you do believe them and there is always that odd balance, obviously, a lot of it is very funny, but, at the same time, at the airport, you want to believe that she's actually thinking. 'God, I can stay with him and maybe the guy is a dick but he's actually, possibly a good dad and husband,...down the line.’”

Of course, Bana’s involvement with the Judd Apatow crew goes back to Knocked Up, where the boys discussed Munich in depth as the ultimate Jewish action movie. “I was completely thrilled and humble and my ego got a huge stroke along. It was hilarious. I think someone from the agency might have called me and said, 'You're not gonna believe this but they mentioned you in this new film, blah, blah, blah.' It took a while to get to Australia and then when it came out in Australia, I went to see it in the movie theater and laughed.”

Funny People opens to theaters July 31st.

For the poster, trailers, stills and more movie info, go to the Funny People Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Universal Pictures
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