Surprise! Eric Bana Used to Have a Completely Different Last Name

Eric Bana

Eric Bana’s upcoming film The Dry will officially hit cinemas January 2021 marking the actors first starring role in an Australian film since 2007’s Romulus, My Father.

In the film, which was adapted from Jane Harper’s novel of the same name, Bana plays Australian Federal Police agent Aaron Falk, who returns to his drought-stricken hometown for the funeral of a childhood friend who had killed his young family and then himself. Falk reluctantly agrees to stay and investigate the tragic crime, but soon finds himself entangled in another from decades ago. 

The role not only represents Bana’s return to Australian cinema, but the trend of Australians returning to the cinema as restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic continue to ease. 

Despite not appearing in an Aussie film in over a decade, Bana is still very much a resident of this great Southern land, even enduring Melbourne’s harsh COVID lockdown with his wife, Rebecca Gleeson and their teenage daughter Sophia. The couple also has a son together. 

The Hulk actor first came to prominence on the Australian sketch comedy series Full Frontal where he gained popularity for his impressions of Hollywood heavy-hitters Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He then later cemented himself as one of the country’s most engaging talents with breakout roles in The Castle and Chopper.

While Bana has gone against the grain by choosing to reside in Australia inside of relocating to Los Angeles for his career, he does share a trait with many of his A-lister counterparts. 

Born Eric Banadinović to a Croatian father and German mother, Bana, like many performers, modified his name when he entered showbusiness. 

The list of public figures who have taken this approach is as varied as Bana’s film roles and includes the late Kirk Douglas who was born Issur Danielovitch but changed it as he felt it was too “Jewish” (a decision he later said he regretted), America’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston whose real surname is Anastassakis, Vampire Diaries alum Nina Dobrev who shortened her moniker from Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva and Stranger Things star Winona Ryder whose birth name was Horowitz. 

These name changes potentially speak to a larger conversation around Hollywood conventions and what constitutes a “palatable” name for an actor or actress hoping to appeal to mainstream and often white middle-American/Australian audiences.

For Bana, however, he says that he has never felt restricted by his heritage. In a 2019 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, the Order of Australia recipient explained that he had never seen “all-Australian” roles, like that in The Dry, as out of reach. 

“That’s one of the things where I’m quite lucky,” he said. “I have enough European heritage that my characters can go that way, but I can also go the other way a little bit…I’ve never really thought about it too much because I’ve never really pigeon-holed myself in terms of the types of characters or movies I do. I’ve never had that internal thought that’s like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to be able to play this or that.'”

The Dry will be in cinemas from January 1, 2021. 

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