The crime thriller Deadfall tells the story of siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde), who get in a car accident after a casino heist gone wrong and decide to split up to make a run for the Canadian border during a Thanksgiving blizzard. While Addison is creating mayhem, Liza is picked up by ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), who’s looking to make amends with his parents over a dinner that will push the bonds of family to the limit.
At the film’s press day, actor Eric Bana spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about why this character stood out to him, what he liked about this unique story structure, how they determined the history of what happened to these siblings prior to when you meet them in the film, and how he viewed the unhealthy dynamic between Addison and Liza. He also talked about what attracts him to a project, why he wanted to work with Peter Berg on Lone Survivor (based on SEAL Team 10’s failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wing,” to capture or kill a notorious Taliban leader), and why he wanted to do Beware the Night (about a New York policeman who investigates cases of demon possessions, exorcisms and werewolves) as his next film. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: When you read this script, was Addison the character that you were immediately drawn to?
ERIC BANA: It was open when the script was sent to me. No one had been cast. So, I immediately was drawn to Addison for two factors. Just as a film lover, I really wanted to film to get made and attached myself to it, immediately. I was very aggressive with the rest of the team, just trying to get the film up and going. Selfishly, I was drawn to Addison, as an actor, because I just felt like he’d be a great challenge and fun to play, in a weird way. And I thought there was a lot of humor. There weren’t jokes there, but I knew that there would be uncomfortable laughs, based on some of the stuff that he does.
Was part of the appeal of this story the unique duality of these characters, where they really are each the protagonist of their own story until they collide with each other and you get to see different sides to them?
BANA: I think it was a pretty cool structure and it came across when I read the script. I felt like (screenwriter) Zach [Dean] had created pretty interesting structures within structures. I don’t know how much of it was even on purpose and how much of it was by accident. But yeah, you’re right, it’s not until we start bringing stuff out of each other that things get revealed.
How did you see Addison?
BANA: If that cop hadn’t have turned up in the beginning when he did, then everything would have been okay. He had no intention of killing anybody. Another thing that Zach did, which was really cool, was that he dragged Addison deeper and deeper into the abyss, as events unfold. He was constantly reacting to circumstances rather than creating everything. I’m justifying a psychopath, but there are plenty of psychopaths out there who are not all murderers. I saw this really interesting documentary that a lot of psychopaths are in upper-management. They have the exact same profiles without the criminal activity, which kind of makes sense.
As an actor, do you worry, if you find yourself relating to a character like this?
BANA: No. I think you get a sense of it, straight away. To play a character like this well, you have to be able to inhabit them to such an extent that you’re not morally questioning their behavior. I never really have any trouble with that. I felt very comfortable as Addison. It all made a lot of sense to me.
Because you don’t get to see the backstory of any of these characters, did you give much thought to what he want through that made him who he is now?
BANA: Yeah. It’s obviously hinted at, as to what kind of a childhood Liza (Olivia Wilde) and Addison have had, but at the same time, it was interesting that (director) Stefan [Ruzowitzky] said to Olivia and I, “Look, obviously we know stuff has occurred between you two guys in the past, but it’s up to you make that up for yourselves, and you don’t even have to discuss it with each other.” Olivia and I had different versions of what may or may not have occurred between us or with our family. There was a bit of mystery there, which was fun to play with.
How did you feel about the relationship between Addison and Liza, and their rather unhealthy dynamic?
BANA: There’s no doubt that it’s somewhat compromised and somewhat complicated and murky, but I think that adds to the tension and the drama in the film, and it adds to the complexity of Addison, so I was happy with that. I was also happy with the fact that it wasn’t overly fleshed out. We only had a couple of moments in which to play with that stuff, whether it be the way he watches her getting changed in the snow in the beginning or how he talks to her or the kiss at the dinner table. That’s kind of weird, but at the same time, it’s about putting Jay (Charlie Hunnam) off kilter. So, it was a weird dynamic. It’s not every day that you read stuff like that, so it was exciting to play. It’s a believable older brother, younger sister dynamic, but just ramped up.
Was it fun to work with someone as game as Olivia Wilde?
BANA: Yeah, she’s a lot of fun. She’s got a very, very good sense of humor, actually. She does good impressions, as well, by the way. She was really cool. Everyone was, actually. I had some great stuff with Sissy [Spacek], and she was just fantastic, so gracious and funny. She was awesome.
Did you ever feel guilty about having to be so mean to Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson, over Thanksgiving dinner?
BANA: No because, as actors, I knew they were loving it themselves and eating it up. They don’t want you to hold back. The more convincing you’re being as your character, the more you’re helping them. I would give Sissy plenty of hugs, in between takes, so I didn’t feel too bad.
You had so many challenges in this movie, with this huge car crash and the extreme weather. Was any of it harder than the rest?
BANA: No. The only time it really dawned on me was when we finally got out of the snow. There were a lot of icy conditions and when we finally got out of there and got into the house, I remember standing on the carpet and thinking, “It’s so nice to be on dry, level ground.” I got so used to walking around in snow and ice in dress shoes, for the whole time. I didn’t have any traction or special soles. I was sliding, ass over head, all the time and my feet were freezing. It wasn’t until that had finished and we got into the house that I realized how much we’d been beaten up, but it was worth it. I’d much rather be uncomfortable and be on a convincing set, then fake snow.
You’ve had a really varied career with the characters that you’ve played. What do you look for in a project, at this point?
BANA: It’s a combination of things. It’s pretty instinctual. I don’t have a hard and fast plan about big or small, dark or light. I honestly don’t. I’m really open. I try to be really open, from one project to the next. The only rule I have is that I tend not to bank myself up on jobs. I don’t think you know what you’re going to be up for until you finish a job, so I don’t like the idea of knowing what my next three films are. I’d rather just shoot something, get it out of the way, and then find the next thing. So then, I’m just constantly thinking on my feet rather than feeling like I’ve already chosen this path and I might burn out of this kind of movie or this kind of character. I’d say nine times out of ten, the stuff that I choose, I’m just reacting to in the moment.
Have you finished shooting Lone Survivor?
BANA: Yeah, I just finished it. I just played a small supporting role in that, but I really wanted to be involved because I loved the book and I’m a fan of (director) Pete Berg’s work. Pete and I actually go back. He was trying to cast me in a lead role, before anyone here knew who I was, many, many years ago, on a film that actually went into turnaround, and we’ve been in touch ever since. This came up and he called and asked me if I would consider playing Commander Kristensen, so I just jumped. It was a couple weeks down in New Mexico, and we just finished last week. I’m really excited about that project. It’s a great story.
Do you know which movie you’re going to do next?
BANA: Well, there’s another movie that I’ve got in the can, called Closed Circuit, which I did this year in London. That’s a Working Title project that will come out next year. The next project looks like it will be Beware the Night with Scott Derrickson, who did The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister. I don’t know if you saw Sinister, but it was scary as hell. So, it looks like we’ll be teaming together on that, which is very cool. It’s another dark, scary project. I’ve never done a scary movie, so I’m really excited. I think it will be fun.
Deadfall is currently available on VOD and opens in theaters on December 7th.