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"As soon as I realized we were going head-on, I was a lot less concerned. It's kind of the best way to crash, believe it or not."

Eric Bana is about to be everywhere. The man who made a name for himself with critically acclaimed turns in 'Black Hawk Down' and 'Munich' and gave new meaning to the term "going green" in 'The Hulk' has three very high-profile flicks set to open this summer. He'll chew the scenery as the appropriately named Romulan baddie Nero in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' reboot, get back in touch with his comedic roots opposite Adam Sandler in Judd Apatow's 'Funny People' and play the quantum-leaping love of Rachel McAdams' life in 'The Time Traveler's Wife.'

But perhaps nearest and dearest to the Aussie actor's heart is 'Love the Beast,' a documentary that marks his directorial debut and chronicles his 25-year love affair ... with his first car, a Ford GT Falcon Coupe he bought as a young boy and recently totaled in the 2007 Targa Tasmania Rally.

With the film making its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29, Bana chats with Moviefone about crashing cars, camping it up for 'Star Trek,' discovering that Adam Sandler is a kindred spirit and realizing that he can do whatever he wants with his car ... and his life.


Eric Bana is about to be everywhere. The man who made a name for himself with critically acclaimed turns in 'Black Hawk Down' and 'Munich' and gave new meaning to the term "going green" in 'The Hulk' has three very high-profile flicks set to open this summer. He'll chew the scenery as the appropriately named Romulan baddie Nero in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' reboot, get back in touch with his comedic roots opposite Adam Sandler in Judd Apatow's 'Funny People' and play the quantum-leaping love of Rachel McAdams' life in 'The Time Traveler's Wife.'

But perhaps nearest and dearest to the Aussie actor's heart is 'Love the Beast,' a documentary that marks his directorial debut and chronicles his 25-year love affair ... with his first car, a Ford GT Falcon Coupe he bought as a young boy and recently totaled in the 2007 Targa Tasmania Rally.

With the film making its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29, Bana chats with Moviefone about crashing cars, camping it up for 'Star Trek,' discovering that Adam Sandler is a kindred spirit and realizing that he can do whatever he wants with his car ... and his life. -- By Tom DiChiara

1. Do you remember the day that you bought the Falcon? Was it love at first sight?

Well, I think I was pre-programmed to love it no matter what. It was an absolute junk. I mean, it was an absolute dented pile of junk when I bought it, but I just thought it was the most beautiful thing ever and refused to see any fault in it. ... I just remember as a kid, you know, going out into the backyard and just kind of doing nothing and just sitting in it and going: "How cool is this? This is my car." And spending a lot of time just listening to music in it, you know, before I was allowed to drive it. My mates would come over and that's what we would do, we would just sit in the car and listen to rock music and just hang out.





2. In the movie you say that the car is like a campfire for you and your friends. Why is that?

Well, I guess it was just that thing. It was something to do. And when you're out in the suburbs and you're far away from everything and you're kind of isolated, you know, there were two things that enabled that. One was that we had the room because we had a big long driveway and a garage out the back. [And the second was that] my parents were the kind of people that would encourage us to sort of hang out at home. So the car just became this kind of active activity that we all tended to hang around.

3. When you crashed the Falcon in the Tasmania Rally, what was going through your mind during and then immediately after the wreck?

Well, when you're racing you're really not thinking about anything other than what you're doing, especially in a rally where it's so much more of a mental exercise rather than a circuit race where it's exhausting, but you know what's coming. In a rally you've never driven that piece of road before and to be on a road that you haven't been on before and be driving at 9/10ths, it's a pretty intense experience. So that's the kind of beforehand. The accident itself, as soon as I realized we were going head-on, I was a lot less concerned. It's kind of the best way to crash, believe it or not. It was more just the shock -- there's no shock about crashing, because I think when you race you just kind of get used to that -- but it was the shock of crashing that particular car. And then after that it's just this massive, massive sense of relaxation and relief that your co-driver's okay.

Eric Bana Photos

    In this film publicity image released by Universal Pictures, actors, from left, Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana are shown in a scene "Funny People." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Tracy Bennett) ** NO SALES **

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    Actors Eric Bana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Chris Pine attend the 'Star Trek' film premiere at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. "Star Trek" London Premiere - Inside Arrivals Empire Leicester Square London, United Kingdom April 20, 2009 Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage.com To license this image (57236987), contact WireImage.com

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    Actors Eric Bana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, director JJ Abrams, actors Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and John Cho attend the 'Star Trek' film premiere at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. "Star Trek" London Premiere - Inside Arrivals Empire Leicester Square London, United Kingdom April 20, 2009 Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage.com To license this image (57232972), contact WireImage.com

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    LONDON - APRIL 20: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Eric Bana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, JJ Abrams, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and John Cho attend the UK film premiere of 'Star Trek', at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Karl Urban;Zoe Saldana;Simon Pegg;John Cho

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    In this film publicity image released by Universal Pictures, actors, from left, Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana are shown in a scene "Funny People." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Tracy Bennett) ** NO SALES **

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    Actors Eric Bana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Chris Pine, director JJ Abrams, actors Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and John Cho attend the 'Star Trek' film premiere at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. 'Star Trek' - UK Premiere - Inside Arrivals Empire Leicester Square London, United Kingdom April 20, 2009 Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage.com To license this image (57232113), contact WireImage.com

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    Actor Eric Bana attends the 'Star Trek' film premiere at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. 'Star Trek' - UK Premiere - Inside Arrivals Empire Leicester Square London, United Kingdom April 20, 2009 Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage.com To license this image (57232094), contact WireImage.com

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    US actor Eric Bana arrives for the UK premiere of the new 'Star Trek' directed by US J.J. Abrams in London's Leicester Square in central London, on April 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry (Photo credit should read SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)

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    LONDON - APRIL 20: (UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS OUT) Eric Bana attends the UK premiere of Star Trek held at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Bana

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    LONDON - APRIL 20: (UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS OUT) Eric Bana attends the UK premiere of Star Trek held at the Empire Leicester Square on April 20, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Bana

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4. You've gotten advice from a lot of people, including Jay Leno and Dr. Phil, about whether you should rebuild the car after the crash. Was there a piece of advice that really hit home?

Yeah, it was funny; I was sitting in the editing suite one night going through hours of footage and interviews and there was an interview oddly enough with my best mate Tony where he said: "I think he's a bit confused about the car. I don't think it matters what he does with it, you know. I think he wants to put a cover on it and leave it in the corner just sitting there. It doesn't matter; it's his car he can do what he wants." And I thought, "Yeah. That's right. I don't have to fix this if I don't want to, or if I'm not ready to." And that's what's happened. The car's still sitting there today. It hasn't been touched, and I've just kind of been too busy making movies to fix the car. [Laughs] I do plan on fixing it. I'm sort of planning it now, you know. It just takes an unbelievable amount of energy. So, it's just one of those things, towards the end of the year when things quiet down I'll just get around to it.

5. What inspired you to make this movie, which is really a love letter from a man to his car?

It was a mixture of things. Part of it was out of frustration. As someone who's part of that world, you know, part of motor racing and cars his whole life, I felt like I was an audience member who has never been taken seriously. And yeah, it just always felt like car films were made by people who weren't really car people and, you know, analyzing how long I've had this car for and realizing how significant a role it had played in my life as far as how it kept friendships together and stuff. The more I looked into that the more I realized there's more to this kind of ownership of a single object, so that's essentially what I was sort of wanting to tap into -- this notion of objects transcending themselves and having significance to us.



6. This was also your directorial debut. Do you think you'll direct again anytime soon?

I really enjoyed it. My background was producing and writing and performing in television when I started out, and I really missed that, that whole creative process that comes from sort of "me" storytelling. So, the chance to do this and start out with the idea that you see through to the end, you know, it was unbelievably satisfying. So yeah, I'd like to do something else -- probably next time maybe narrative and something probably again small. I definitely, definitely enjoyed it.

7. The movie's already a massive hit in Australia; it had the second biggest opening ever of any documentary. Why do you think it's been so successful?

I think I underestimated how strongly people would connect with the film emotionally ... It played as wide as I had dreamt it would, but it played wider than I thought it would, if that makes sense. I found women responded really strongly to it, and it was weird, I think part of the reason it worked is, personal as the story seems to be, that it seems to be more about the audience than it seems to be about me. People tend to connect with elements of the film so strongly that it kind of becomes more about them and their relationships with different things and people in their lives. So I think it's acted as a bit of a mirror and allowed people to be quite reflective about things, and I'm very proud of that. One of the reasons I wanted to make it is that it is essentially a study of the things that come and go out of our lives. It's not really about a guy and his car, which is kind of an easy wrap-it-up piece that you can sell it as, but essentially it's about all these other things.

8. You're playing the villain Nero in the 'Star Trek' reboot. 'Trek' villains are notorious for being kind of over the top -- did you get to chew a fair amount of scenery in the film?

I enjoyed the extra freedom that comes with playing an intergalactic villain, I would say. [Laughs] ... My head's covered in prosthetic makeup, so you have to shave your head in order to have it all glued down, but it was pretty fun and a pretty amazing amount of prosthetic makeup -- [at] a lot of screenings in the last couple of weeks people wouldn't really realize it was me, so it was kind of fun.





9. You have a background in stand-up comedy, but you haven't really gotten to show it Stateside yet. And now you're in 'Funny People,' a movie about stand-up comics and you didn't get to play one. Were you disappointed at all?

No, it was a lot of fun, just getting a chance to hang out with Adam. And we had an incredible amount in common actually. It was kind of fun to be in a film that was about that world; it was great to go back to comedy. I hadn't done it for a long, long time and that was kind of my bread and butter back home, till, like, 10 years before I started acting. It was, you know, a hell of a lot of fun and to get a chance to work with the troupe of people that Judd has around him and to work with Judd, it was like letting the dog off the lead. It was fantastic. Every day was insane. My character is absolutely off the dial; there were not a lot of intense, broody moments. It was all pretty much insanity, so it was just nothing but fun every day. I just felt kind of sick at the end, feeling like I've missed out on 10 years of fun since I stopped doing comedy.





10. Do you have any plans to go back to that genre?

Well, I never really ever have plans. I just respond to material that's available and it's been that long since I've had something come up the road and gone: "You know what? That's something that's definitely for me and something I can contribute to." I try not to watch comedies and think, "Oh, I could've done that." I usually have the opposite reaction. It was a very rare marriage of a director having a piece of material that he thought suited me and me reading the material and thinking the material suited me, so we'll see. Maybe again, but it took me about 10 years to find this one, so it might be a while.