Eric Bana has shared the screen with various leading ladies. The only one who really got his motor running? A Ford GT Falcon coupe.
"She's definitely the most tempting," laughed Bana in an interview Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Bana has brought his directorial debut "Love the Beast" to Tribeca. A documentary about his abiding connection to his first car, it's a 25-year-old love story for the 40-year-old Australian actor dating back to his teenager years in Melbourne.
Bana is a serious racer and often competes professionally in Australia — including in the grueling five-day Targa Tasmania Rally. The film follows Bana racing his beloved car — nicknamed "the Beast" — in the 2007 Targa Tasmania, in which he crashed on the fourth day. (Bana emerged uninjured along with his co-driver.)
The film may sound like a vanity project, but it unfolds as an examination of how people develop deep emotional bonds with inanimate objects. In the film, Bana refers to his muscle car as a constant in his life and a "campfire" around which he and his friends gather.
"I hate the term ‘passion project,'" Bana says. "To me, it's like, what, directors don't normally make projects that they're passionate about? A passion project for me is going motor racing. Going motor racing with cameras is not a passion project."
Bana ("Munich," "Hulk") decided to make "Love the Beast" — which took three years to finish — in part because he was frustrated by car films that never spoke to him emotionally.
The film doesn't yet have distribution in North America; he's hoping to find a deal at Tribeca. "Love the Beast" includes appearances from fellow automobile enthusiast Jay Leno and TV guru Dr. Phil, who analyzes Bana's emotional attachment to his car.
Bana, who lives in Australia with his wife and two children, says he's enjoying the dichotomy of looking for an audience for the modest "Love the Beast" while starring in some of the year's biggest films.
After Tribeca, he flies to Los Angeles for the premiere of "Star Trek," in which he plays villain Nero. He later will star in Judd Apatow's "Funny People" and the romance "The Time Traveler's Wife."
He hopes that once the films are out, he'll turn to repairing his cherished car, which is still badly damaged from the accident. It lies in his garage, Bana says, "just a big, piled wreck waiting for my time and attention."