Eric Bana has appeared in countless Hollywood movies, but he’s arguably best remembered for the documentary he made on his 1974 Ford Falcon XB Coupe – Love the Beast.
More than a decade after the film’s release Bana has revealed to Greg Rust on his Rusty’s Garage podcast, why he still owns the first car he bought as a teenager and why he’ll never sell it.
While his career sees him travel the world to appear in blockbusters, including Steven Spielberg’s Munich and the rebooted Star Trek, Bana continues to live in Melbourne and still drives his XB Falcon regularly. Speaking with Rust on this 50th episode of his podcast, Bana explained that The Beast continues to be the crux of his passion for cars.
“There were definitely periods where you may not use it for a year or so, or it had to be stored off-site, but there was never ever a conversation in my head about getting rid of it,” Bana told Rusty’s Garage. “There were a lot of periods where it was kind of impractical, but it’s kind of really come full-circle and I’m still finding the car as therapeutic to me now as it was 30 years ago. It’s still fulfilling the same role as it did in the documentary, for those who saw it.”
Those who have seen Love the Beast will know that the car seemed to meet an unfortunate end when Bana crashed it in Targa Tasmania. However, he has revealed to Rust the process that went into repairing it so that now it’s in almost immaculate condition.
“It still gives me something to do, there’s always something to do on it, whilst it’s pretty much done now and there’s not much more I can do on it,” he explained. “But in terms of maintenance and in terms of driving it and enjoying it, and the smile it puts on people’s faces when you’re driving down the road because you just don’t see them. I mean, forget the fact it’s The Beast, but any coupe in that condition you basically get run off the road by trucks on the highway trying to get a look at it. It’s just a wonderful thing to have had for so long.”
Bana does admit that he tries to compartmentalise his love of cars and motorbikes when he works on a film, as movie producers often have to insure actors in the event of injury, but admits he doesn’t always succeed.
“I do have to keep the blinkers on because I’ll inevitably get into a conversation with one of the prop guys or the vehicle guys and particularly the stunt guys, I usually make friends with the stunt person in the first week who’s into cars,” Bana said. “Because inevitably when you’re doing stunt training or fight training you’ve got something to talk about.”
The star of Chopper also revealed to Rust that he’s trying to combine his two passions and is working on a script for a movie about legendary motorcycle racer Mike Hailwood.
The chat with Rust also included an amusing revelation about how he got involved with Australian comedy classic, The Castle, which was eerily similar to how the car-obsessed Bana grew up in Melbourne’s Tullamarine.
“When I first read the script for The Castle, you have to understand, my dad was a greyhound trainer when I was a kid and we lived near the airport. So I read the script and in the first 10 pages I thought they were taking the piss out of me. I thought ‘Is this a joke document?’ This is too close to the bone. There was a lot about The Castle I could relate to,” Bana laughed.
In the chat Bana also speaks about his love of Porsche’s and his desire to add to his list of Bathurst race starts.