“Ya Wouldn’t Bloody Like Me When I’m Angry, Mate” – Eric Bana’s Weird Career Progression

Australian of many hats (and presumably berets, gloves, scarves and other assorted fineries) Eric Bana, is close to signing on to star in Lone Survivor. The Peter Berg-directed flick based on the events of SEAL Team 10’s “Operation Red Wing,”  where the Navy SEALs were ambushed while on a covert assassination mission in Afghanistan in 2005. Bana is to round out a cast that already includes Marky Mark (Wahlberg), Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch in the role of “Taylor Kitsch is acting.” Peter Berg will also be handling the screenplay duties on this one, adapting the book of the same name that was penned by Marcus Luttrell. Complex – and my pants’ – favourite, Mark Wahlberg is set to play Luttrell, the member of the expedition who wrote the book about his experiences upon which Lone Survivor is based. No telling at this stage who the ‘lone survivor’ of the title is going to be.

For me, though, and probably a lot of Australians, it’s still weird watching Eric Bana be this big shot legit actor. I grew up with Bana starring in Full Frontal, which was this sketch-comedy series that was insanely popular in the early ’90s. Bana’s skits were generally celebrity impersonations, and a whole lot of… sigh… ‘ethnic’ characters (it was a different time, gentle readers… wait, no, we haven’t changed at all). Bana was one of the more popular guys on the show, and I’ve spent my morning looking through a bunch of his skits, and… really? I used to think this was fucken hilarious. Wow. Probably his most famous character was ‘Poida’ (a hi-LARIOUS mispronounciation of ‘Peter’), an… oh for fuck’s sake… ‘ethnic’ bogan. I’m not sure that the word ‘bogan’ really translates to our non-Aussie readers, but I suppose it’s kind of similar to redneck or somesuch… It’s kind of someone who is unsophisticated, especially when it comes to language, speech, clothing, attitudes, etc. That’s real Australian for you: we’ll make fun of you if you’re too smart, or too stupid, ya poofta – MIDDLE GROUND AUSSIE ALL THE WAY –  much like my articles.

Yep. That’s Poida. He was a sen-fucking-sation. I know. Really. I loved it, too. We were obligated to at the time. We only just got TV in the ‘80s, and this was the first show we ever made, so we were all just really impressed that we’d even made anything and went with it – before this it was all boomerangs, kangaroos and slimy streets from all the rampant public masturbation [citation needed].

So, imagine for this colony of bogans how weird it was when he got cast as Chopper Read in Chopper, the fucking seminal 2000 crime movie written and directed by Andrew Dominik (the upcoming Killing Them Softly). Turns out our boy had chops, with his rather pat impersonation of Chopper. But really, I can’t look at him, no matter how great he is. For example, Munich, the Spielberg flick where he plays a Mossad agent tracking down terrorists, I had a really hard time trying to get Poida’s voice out of my head. And he was great in that. Hell, he’s great in most stuff, and seems like a pretty cool guy – always up for doing some indie Aussie flicks, like the sweet Romulus, My Father in 2007.

Bana followed Chopper with Black Hawk Down, which he rocked the shit out of, yet again. And, oddly, it sounds pretty similar to Lone Survivor, so let’s hope that Peter Berg has a hit on his hand, and it doesn’t work out like last time he tried to do a realistic war-time drama, like the turgid The Kingdom.

Y’know, I always thought it was weird that Bana was the one who broke out from Full Frontal, and not the awesome Shaun Micallef, who bears the honour of being “Liam’s favourite person ever.” Micallef was clearly just plain funnier and smarter than anyone else on the show. Even the more stupid of his recurring characters were just funnier, like former boxer Milo Kerrigan.

I mean, fuck, I wanna just make this whole article clips of Shaun Micallef doing stuff I love. Can I? [No! Not again! – Ed.] Too bad.

Micallef, just like Eric Bana, got his own program, which I still think of as the best Australian comedy show ever. However, Micallef’s program was actually pretty successful, unlike Bana’s, which was cancelled after eight episodes. Maybe in some cool parallel universe, Micallef is huge overseas after being cast as… I dunno, Julian Assange or something (mail me that cheque, Hollywood).

Micallef has also dabbled in more crime-y projects, having created and written Blackjack, the subject of six telemovies about a detective who blew the whistle on police corruption and languishes in the police archives as punishment, where he starts solving cold cases. It was actually pretty rad, from memory.

He’s also just hilarious when he guests on otherwise horrible morning entertainment shows where he just mocks the whole format and acts like a hilarious, incredible prick.

Anyway, I await Lone Survivor with cautious optimism, but little doubt that Bana will bring the goods. And really, everyone should check out as much Micallef Programme as possible. End rant.

Liam José is the name given to a highly sophisticated system of
pullies and levers that edits and designs Crime Factory. Upgrades have
included a random text generator, the output of which has appeared in
places like A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Flash Fiction
Offensive, and as one of the winning entries of the 2010 WGI at
Drowning Pool. It is serviced irregularly in Melbourne, Australia.