Eric Bana is no stranger to action heroism. After "Hulk," "Troy" and "Star Trek," the Australian star knows his way around a pulled-punch, a roundhouse kick and a blank-loaded 9mm.
But in his new film, "Hanna," Bana's action moves ride shotgun to Saoirse Ronan who stars as a young assassin trained by her father in the wilds of Finland to be the ultimate weapon. Think of her as baby Bourne adrift in a land of the Brothers Grimm; a motherless girl on the brink of womanhood with an evil queen (Cate Blanchett) bent on destruction and dominance.
Sitting down to speak with Bana, Popcorn Biz learns that director Joe Wright ("Atonement") "pitched [the film] to me as a fairy tale. I loved the script, thought it was just a really good thriller and I loved the way pieces of information slowly released like a deck of cards. But when I spoke to Joe and he explained the fairy-tale-gone-wrong aspects, then I really got excited."
He said he was fascinated that the movie "followed a character normally played by a 30-year-old guy but it's a 16-year-old girl," still, that didn't mean Bana was set dressing. One of the film's highlights is a sequence we're calling "The 'Goodfellas' Fight Scene;" a full-on melee brawl filmed in a single extraordinary take with Bana at the center.
"It was a lot of fun," the actor grins. "Joe pulled me aside a week before and said, 'Look, this fight is gonna be steadicam, one shot,' and I said, 'Uhhh, okay.' I didn't have a lot of time to prepare but I was honored. You rarely get that opportunity. Fights in movies are usually assembled by editors so a lot of times all the hard work you put into the choreography is for nothing because it's all cut up. In that case, the stakes were high because we only had about 45 minutes to get the shot. I think we did, like, six takes and the second take is in the film."
Having gone through hours of fight training, we wondered how Bana would fair in a real life tussle.
"I'd love to say that it would come in handy but it probably wouldn't. It might even be a hindrance," Bana laughs, saying he'd resort to an old classic if push came to shove. "Kick to the balls," he decrees. "It works. Ask Saoirse. She caught me a couple of times but we soldiered on."
Considering "Hanna" mirrors Jason Bourne is several wonderful ways, we asked Bana if he had any casting suggestions for the series' continuation sans Matt Damon, "The Bourne Legacy."
"To me, Matt's still the guy," Bana shrugs before his eyes light up with a suggestion. "Saoirse!" he beams. "There you go! She'd kick his ass, I think."
"Hanna" opens April 8.