Steady As He Goes Big-hitter directors like Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and Ang Lee sing his praises, and his movies have more than a billion dollars worldwide. So why is Eric Bana still such a mystery?
In light of the recent controversy regarding Gibson's anti-semitic remarks, to what degree do you think he should be held responsible?
At the end of the day, any crap that comes out of your mouth, you have to own. There are varying degrees of responsibility when it comes to cinema, and the final vision. We can all say, "I'm not completely responsible for the effect a film has," or you could say things were "out of my control." But one thing you can't ever blame anyone else for is what comes out of your mouth. We all have to live and die by that, and wear the weight of our words. Even I've done interviews where I've read the remarks and thought, "Wow, I was a bit looser with my words than I wanted to be." But, hey, it came out of my mouth. But he has kind of owned his words, the things he has said, hasn't he?
In the cases of Cruise and Gibson, and Russell Crowe last year, who do you think is more to blame: the media, for blowing the situations out of proportion; the public, for eating up the gossip; or Cruise - or Redstone - and Crowe and Gibson themselves for their actions?
It's definitely a combination. That's a tough one. I guess you look at the Gibson case and you know straight off the bat that it's going to attract a lot of hate, a lot of press. And, pretty much, rightly so. He's never really going to get away with that. Whereas with Tom, you look at what he did and question whether he was really out to hurt anybody.
Some actors have been outspoken in taking on causes, and it's been frowned upon at times. Are you political?
Would you ever use your celebrity to back a cause? I have a cause back home that I like to do what I can for. It's a charity. But politically, no. We do have some level of responsibility -- not politically, but socially I do. That's fair to expect. You can have an effect by the work you do, the movies that you're in and what those movies say. In a way, that can become your voice.
What do you think of the people who go out there and back issues or candidates, like George Clooney or Sean Penn?
A lot of times I have a lot of respect for it, especially when the person knows what they're talking about. If they don't know what they're talking about -- watch out. I wish I could be as knowledgeable as one of those people about so many different things, but I'm just not. Back home, I'm not interested in getting into politics, but if you ask my opinion about how we can stop seventeen-year-olds from having car accidents and killing themselves in a riot, I'll get into that.
If there is a misunderstanding about you among the public, what do you think it is?
I have no idea, because I have no idea how I'm perceived. I have absolutely no handle on it whatsoever. It's good and it's bad. It gets to the point where I actually completely forget what I do for a job. So that's a tricky one. When I'm not working with Richard on Romulus, I'm actually not an actor; I'm not a movie star. I'm just a guy who happens to be a father and a husband and a mate and a son and all that stuff. It is tricky because how we identify ourselves with ourselves, our work and our profession, is a part of that. And at times I do struggle with it because I forget that that's a part of my world. But when I do remember, I don't really understand where I stand within that world.
Do you understand the public's fascination with celebrity culture, and are you susceptible to it as well?
Yes and no. I get it on a human level, in the sense that everyone wants to know a little bit of gossip, everyone likes to hear something about someone. But I'm not that interested in hearing it about people that I know. So I don't understand the fascination with celebrity. Some events are not as interesting to the public as the media would like them to be, to a degree. But it makes sense. It's an industry. It's a business.
So what do you owe the public as a movie star?
It's pretty simple. You owe them to not ever walk through a film. You owe them to make correct choices and not sell your soul to a movie that you don't really want to do, and then not deliver. You have to deliver. You can't be a fake. Whatever you do, you've got to give it your best and believe in it. It's fair to expect that. You can't do it for a payday.