I had a fun interview with Eric Bana for the horror film Deliver Us From Evil at WonderCon in Anaheim this weekend. First, he was really into CraveOnline, or at least the Crave part. Then his costar Olivia Munn came and interrupted our interview while they riffed together for about half a minute. Deliver Us From Evil comes out July 2 and stars Bana as Ralph Sarchie, a Brooklyn police officer who teams up with a priest when it appears there is something supernatural to the evils in the city.
Eric Bana: Fred, what are you craving. Be specific. Coffee? Cup of coffee? Alcohol? What are we craving?
CraveOnline: I want to talk to you. How does playing a real character like Ralph Sarchie compare to playing someone like Chopper, who maybe isn’t the most well known but is more well known than we know Ralph for sure?
Eric Bana: I’m not sure how to answer that. Oddly enough, there are most definitely some similarities. One of the reasons why I wanted to play the character was from a complex point of view, it’s kind of cool actually because there’s a very, very large slice of Ralph’s character that is not revealed through any of the trailers thus far which is good. There is a very big secret behind him that makes him a highly intriguing person to play and puts him in a world with Olivia Munn which is awesome.
Olivia Munn: She’s so thin. It’s like, ugh, have an intervention for her.
Eric Bana: Most of the time the DP was like, “Can she come out of the trailer?” I’m like, “She’s standing next to me. She’s here.” He’s like, “No, we need more like.”
Olivia Munn: I know. I don’t feel pretty until my friends have an intervention for me.
Eric Bana: And he was shooting at like F8 and we still couldn’t see you which is amazing.
Olivia Munn: Because you told me not to eat carbs anymore.
Eric Bana: No, that’s Joel [McHale].
Olivia Munn: Joel counts every carb that I have.
Eric Bana: I’ll see you Monday.
Olivia Munn: See you Monday. So good to see you. Stay handsome, huh?
Eric Bana: Yeah, you too. So, there are some tiny similarities but I would have played him in a thriller. The character to me was so interesting. It was just a bonus that he happened to be in a cool horror film.
It’s true, there are still a lot of secrets in the movie because they’ve hardly revealed anything. You’ve been a part of some big movies where either we already know the story, like Troy, or they have to show a lot in the trailers like Star Trek or Hulk. Has that ever been frustrating to you that the audience knows so much before the movie even begins?
Eric Bana: Yeah, well, I guess in some ways it is taking a lot of the tools away from the actor. It is taking a lot of the potential tension, the reveal, the journey. So it is cool. I guess that’s one of the advantages of doing and original screenplay. In this case, we’re a summer movie but we started out as a pretty moderately budgeted movie that was coming out in January of next year. Original screenplay, something that’d been in development a long time. So it’s fun from that perspective and to know that no one really knows anything about what may or may not happen to our characters. So yeah, I think it’s definitely a bonus.
Did you use the element of surprise in your performance, knowing that we won’t know what’s coming this time?
Eric Bana: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s something you’re cognizant of as you’re going about your day as an actor. I mean, I guess as an audience member you think no, it’s cool. This is cool that we’ve got this element and this element, that that’ll just slightly build through the course of the film and then we’ll reveal it here. I guess you’re aware, because sometimes I like to do that.
When you start shooting, it’s really important to be an audience member because everything you’ve discussed in preproduction, all the interesting conversations you’ve had, the audience doesn’t see any of that stuff. The audience only sees what you shoot from day one to day 40. My focus really shifts heavily to what are we doing, what are we getting, how can we make this better, what are we missing? Sometimes you get that by not being an actor and by being an audience member. So I think it is a really important perspective to take.
Since Ralph was involved and on the set, I assume you got a chance to meet him. Is where he is today where you bring him to in the film?
Eric Bana: No. No, there’s a lot of room left in Ralph at the end of our film.
How far is his journey at this stage? Does it begin when he doesn’t believe in anything paranormal at all, and did he tell you about that part of his life?
Eric Bana: Yeah, I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying at the beginning of our journey, we are dealing with an incredibly tough cop living in an incredibly brutal world and dealing with it accordingly, factually and physically. I don’t want to allude to where it is that he ends up, but that’s most definitely the starting point.
Are there aspects of a traditional cop movie in Deliver Us From Evil also?
Eric Bana: Yes. Like I say, when I read the character, the thing I liked not just about Ralph, but it’s a procedural cop thriller. So it’s a bit of a mashup in the sense that it works incredibly well as a thriller, as a procedural thriller, but it just happens to be scary, which I think from a structural point of view makes it really interesting and probably puts more pressure on Scott from a screenplay point of view and from a director’s point of view but at the same time gives him more tools as well.
Were there any challenges on the visual effects side, or just in executing some of the film’s scares?
Eric Bana: I don’t think I had any visual effects that I worked with.
For all I know, there are none in the movie. I guess I’m assuming because it’s horror.
Eric Bana: Yeah, there’s almost none, almost none. So there were some beautifully crafted pieces made for the film whether it be a prosthetic or someone who is able to twist their body in a particular way to create what looks like an effect but isn’t an effect. It was very analog in that sense.