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The accomplished actor recently dropped by the WTF with Marc Maron Podcast where he discussed his career, including his go as the Hulk’s human half in Ang Lee’s adaptation, Hulk.
“It wasn’t a quick yes, that’s for sure,” Bana said of signing on to be the first actor to play Bruce Banner in a live-action project since the late Bill Bixby on the TV series. “It took me a while to get my head around it. I wasn’t privy to the script prior to signing onto the film. It’s one of the only films I have done where that was the case. It just wasn’t the type of film that I saw myself doing.”
Nonetheless, Bana did do the film, and the imaginative Hulk went on to be one of the highest-grossing films of 2003. But, Bana said he never had any plans to return.
“You certainly didn’t go into a film like that thinking you were going to do more than one … that just wasn’t in play,” he said of the state of superhero films at the time. “The expectations are not the way they are now. I approached it as a one-off.” He added that he was not asked to reprise the role in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which starred Edward Norton.
Bana said, by and large, superhero films are not his cup of tea. “It’s why I haven’t re-dabbled in that area,” the actor told Maron. “They’re not the kind of movie that I race out and see myself so that conversation is something I have with myself if I want to be a part of it.”
The actor noted he had seen Norton’s Hulk, but never Mark Ruffalo’s version. “He’s the one who worked it out. He found his stride,” Bana said of Ruffalo’s success with the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While on the topic, Bana also shared a hilarious story about Nick Nolte, who played his character’s father, David Banner. It seems Nolte was using an oxygen tank during the Hulk production.
“He said to me one day — he took a hit of the oxygen and he said to me — ‘I don’t really need this, it just makes them think you’re fucking crazy and they pay attention,'” Bana said, laughing.
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