FILMINK's Erin Free speaks to Chopper's star Eric Bana and director Andrew Dominik a few years after the film's release.
On its release, Chopper was a furious, almost unprecedented success. Audiences voted with their hard earned cash, while critics called it a masterpiece. It's now a bona fide Australian classic (up there with the similarly ground breaking Mad Max).
“I think Chopper' s quite impatient,” laughs Eric Bana, the film's much-lauded star, about the real life crim he essayed so convincingly in the film. “I think that he thought the film would come together a lot quicker. I guess it's quite an intoxicating experience. It's intoxicating for me to sit down and watch it, and I'm just the guy playing him. So I imagine if someone was to make a film about you and you were still alive – it would be quite affecting. We all have romantic ideals about the cinematic experience, and Mark's having one about himself.”
One of the most debated aspects of the film when it was being made was the casting of TV comic Bana in the demanding lead role. Now it's all just academic. “I think it really worked in our favour that there were people who really expected Eric not to be good,” says Andrew Dominik, the film's director. “Because forty seconds in they're like 'Wow' and I think that creates a lot of good will for the film.”
Eric Bana agrees that his comic pedigree set him up beautifully for the role that has made him a movie star. “I think in the end, it was obviously a bonus. It was something that I had up my sleeve and Andrew knew that. But I think there were so many other elements of the character that were important to him, and he couldn't solely cast on that one thing. But it was handy to have some experience, in my own way anyway, of timing and how I think something should be delivered.”
Andrew Dominik still has the clearest view on Bana's mesmerizing performance: “Eric was just the best. I tested everyone you could think of. Eric's just fucking amazing, and he was actually Chopper's idea!”