×

Aussie has bulk for ‘Hulk’

Bana inks deal with option to star in two sequels

NEW YORK — Eric Bana will play the title role in Ang Lee’s “The Incredible Hulk,” Universal’s big-budget adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise. Bana’s emergence as the favorite for a much-coveted job was first revealed by Daily Variety (Sept. 18). The film is on track for a March start.

Like all actors who sign up for superhero duty in Marvel fare, Bana has inked to star in the film, with option deals on two sequels. U will start him out with a seven-figure salary and dish out rapidly escalating amounts of green if Bana makes multiple appearances as the scientist who morphs into the green-skinned muscle-bound hero.

David Hayter did the latest draft of the script, which is now being rewritten by Lee’s collaborator James Schamus, who will also produce with Gale Anne Hurd and Marvel Studios president Avi Arad. ILM has just come aboard to handle special effects.

Many young actors in Hollywood chased the Hulk role after Lee decided to make the pic his followup to the celebrated “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Bana’s emergence as the front-runner was a surprise, given the relative brevity of his film career. The Australian-born thesp began as a comedian and television host. While burly, he was not the go-to guy for macho roles until the killer Mark “Chopper” Reid personally endorsed Bana to play him in a feature film that was being prepped in Australia. Bana auditioned and got the role; the film became a critical sensation Down Under.

Bana popped up on Hollywood’s radar when “Chopper” debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, and every agent in Hollywood tried to sign him. WMA’s John Fogelman got the nod, and the agency quickly got Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott aboard the Bana bandwagon, as he was cast as a co-lead in the Scott-directed ensemble drama “Black Hawk Down,” which also stars Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor.

Bana then flew himself to Gotham to meet Lee and Schamus when they signed on for “Hulk” duty. At the same time, he’d met with Marvel’s Arad for the lead role in “Ghost Rider,” which went to Nicolas Cage.

“He’d heard (Nicolas Cage) might get the job, but wanted to meet anyway because he’s a professional biker,” Arad said. “He was immensely appealing, and we are lucky to have him to be Bruce Banner. He’s a fresh face, but he’s a veteran performer who has a unique combination of great strength and the most soulful eyes. That is a difficult combination to find.”

Bana’s casting comes as Fox and New Regency near a deal with Ben Affleck to play the title character in “Daredevil,” the Mark Steven Johnson-directed drama also based on a signature Marvel Comics series.

Fox also is on course to start production next year on its “X-Men” sequel. Original scribe Hayter and director Bryan Singer are nearly done with a script, and the entire cast is poised to reprise.

Marvel is also eyeing a 2002 production start for the Artisan-based “Iron Fist,” directed by Kirk Wong and starring martial artist Ray Park.

And with Sony’s “Spider-Man” wrapped for a summer 2002 release, the studio and director Sam Raimi have begun making preparations to fast-track a sequel. Stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have option deals for two sequels.

Bana is repped by WMA and the Australia-based Lauren Bergman Management.

More Film

  • Andhadhun receives AACTA nomination

    Indian and Chinese Titles Dominate AACTA Asian Award Nominations

    Three Indian and three mainland Chinese films are among the nine feature movies shortlisted for the Best Asian Film Award by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. The Indian selections are box office hit “Andhadhun,” “Super Deluxe, and “Gully Boy,” which premiered in February at the Berlin festival. The Chinese trio includes “Shadow,” [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Film News Roundup: 'The Two Popes' Wins Audience Award at Miami Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Two Popes” wins an audience award, “A Night with Janis Joplin” and “Fittest in Dubai” get releases, Artists First reorganizes, SAG-AFTRA expands its headquarters and Film Fest 919 announces its winners. AUDIENCE AWARD Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes” has won the audience award at the Miami Gems Film Festival. [...]

  • Scotty Bowers

    Scotty Bowers, Old Hollywood's Sexual Matchmaker, Dies at 96

    Scotty Bowers, a “sexual matchmaker” for dozens of stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood who wrote about his colorful — and sometimes unbelivable — life in his memoir “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars,” died at his Laurel Canyon home on Sunday. He was 96. The [...]

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Introducing On-Demand Movie Service

    AMC Entertainment will introduce an online video store in the United States on Tuesday. Adam Aron, AMC’s president and chief executive, said that the AMC Theaters On Demand will offer about 2,000 films for sale or rent after their theatrical runs — much like Amazon or iTunes. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount have [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers upon

    Scarlett Johansson 'Pushing' for All-Women Marvel Movie

    After the epic battle scene in “Avengers: Endgame” depicted the female superheroes uniting to protect Spider-Man from Thanos, Marvel fans started wondering if they’ll ever see the women unite for a standalone movie. “Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson generated even more buzz when she told Variety that she and other female co-stars have approached Marvel [...]

  • Ivana Lombardi Netflix

    Annapurna Film Head Ivana Lombardi Named Director of Indies at Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)

    Annapurna Pictures president of film Ivana Lombardi is moving across town to Netflix, after almost a year in her role at Megan Ellison’s company. As of Nov. 6, Lombardi will serve as director of independent films at the streamer. She will report directly to Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s vice president of independent film and documentary features. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content