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Almost from the moment I Tweeted a photo from my chat with the Australian actor Eric Bana last week, I’ve been hearing from various women around the office who, for lack of a better analogy, are melting like butter on a hot stack of pancakes over the man’s hunkiness (I guess I’m not actually lacking a better analogy, but that’s the one I’m going with).

Bana puts his charms to excellent use in his new thriller Closed Circuit—costarring Rebecca Hall and Jim Broadbent—but I’m also happy to report that in addition to being a bonafide beefcake, Bana is an engaging, fun guy. Although he plays a lot of serious roles (they don’t get much more grim than that of his terrorist-tracking assassin in Steven Spielberg’s Munich), Bana started out doing stand-up comedy, so he has a healthy and endearingly ironic perspective when it comes to the business of being a movie star.

Here’s a video blog of our conversation. Bana talks about how some thrillers cheat their audiences with outrageous twists; how his beloved father-in-law, a leading Australian judge, influenced his role as a lawyer in Closed Circuit; and why sometimes the most serious-minded movies are the ones that are the most fun to shoot.

"Eric Bana seems so serious." I've heard a version of this sentence spoken more than a few times over the last 10 years. If only they knew that got his start in Australia as a stand-up comic and on a sketch comedy television program. (Bana's only true comedic role in the U.S. was Judd Apatow's "Funny People.") In fact, Bana is so associated with being funny in Australia that he says people still don't take him seriously back home -- a stark contrast to how he's viewed here in the United States.

Here's the thing, however, about meeting Bana in person: It's impossible not to laugh when he goes off on a rant. He is undoubtedly just a naturally funny man, even if he doesn't necessarily want you to know that.

Bana's latest role is serious once again. He stars in "Closed Circuit" as a London lawyer named Martin Rose who is assigned to defend a man accused of terrorism. The deeper Martin digs, the more he learns about the government's involvement in the terrorist attack. (Jim Broadbent and Rebecca Hall are Bana's co-stars.)

Ahead, a delightfully jovial Bana discusses everything from comedy to his disappointment with "Hulk" (well, other than the fact that he didn't have to do a second "Hulk"), and his relationship with "Star Trek" fans after he destroyed the planet Vulcan.


Art imitates life: Paranoia, secrecy and the surveillance state
Actor Eric Bana and director John Crowley join Alex Wagner to discuss their new film, “Closed Circuit,” which follows CCTV cameras across London as the trial of an accused terrorist unveils an intricate web of classified evidence and a secret service cover-up.