It's not an easy task being able to depict a real person on the big screen, especially when said person dealt with supernatural elements that appeared to be fictional, except they weren't at all. Actor Eric Bana takes on this herculean task of portraying real-life sergeant Ralph Sarchie in the upcoming horror-thriller [Deliver Us From Evil](movie:739915). The experienced actor brings his own take to the role, and along the way gains a lot more insight into this strange paranormal world that so many believe in.
The upcoming summer movie centers on the police sergeant (Bana) who investigates a number of abnormal crimes with the aide of a priest (Édgar Ramírez). I got the chance to speak with Eric Bana about preparation for the role, getting to know Ralph Sarchie and his own viewpoint on the supernatural
It's interesting how "Deliver Us From Evil" is based off of a true story. Did you read Ralph Sarchie's book prior to?
Eric Bana: Yeah, I pretty much read everything that was there to be sucked up. It definitely made it more intriguing, pretty interesting. I guess you're always selfishly cherry-picking stuff that you can use as an actor, and in this case we have Ralph's book, which wasn't really well-known, which in some ways which was a benefit for us. It only kind of loosely forms a framework. You wouldn't -- It's not like the film is a direct adaptation.
What was it like working with Édgar Ramírez? It appears as if you two worked together, acting alongside each other, pretty seamlessly.
Eric Bana: Yeah, he was fantastic to work with. I really, really enjoyed Édgar but his company personally, he's a lovely guy to hang out with. We shared our pre-production time together with Scott so it was really great. We got to know each other really well and we got to have a lot of fantastic conversations between the three of us. He's a great actor. Most of our scenes are with each other, so it was a really important dynamic. When I read the script, I discussed with Scott that we're going to have to get somebody really good for Mendoza. It's such a good character. We just really have to get the best we can. I was really thrilled to work with Edgar. He's fantastic to work with.
How different is the atmosphere for the set of a horror thriller like this compared to other genres?
Eric Bana: It's funny; It moved each day. We had a really tough schedule, so there was days where it was very intense and very serious. There were days where we would be mucking around and carrying on like an idiot. Sometimes you needed the muck around to break the tension and what you're dealing with. Someone would come on set with something that was pretty horrific, and we definitely can't make fun of that. We can't take that seriously, so it was a bit of a combination. In general, sometimes the movies that you think are going to be a real laugh can be a really serious set, and the movies that have really serious subject matter can quite often attract the funniest people. In this case as well, it was definitely a lot of fun.
I wanted to also talk about just the whole idea, the idea of exorcisms and spirits and supernatural stuff like that. Are you any sort of a believer? Or are you more of a skeptic?
Eric Bana: I just understand it a lot more than I did. I think the real eye-opening part of it for me was how big that world is, and how much there is to know about it. It's so easy... we let ourselves off the hook. We sit back and go "true or not? Believe or don't believe? Real or not real?" and that's just a big cop-out, because it's really easy to just lean towards an exit door, but the reality is that when you start investing in trying to understand it as a legitimate subject, then it gets far more complicated and a lot harder to find the exit door. I really got a large appreciation on this film, both by hanging around with Ralph, talking to Scott who understands more than I'll ever know about it, so it was just really interesting.
What was it like having the real Ralph Sarchie on? Did he have any sort of reaction when he saw these scenes being reenacted in front of him?
Eric Bana: It's always very -- I feel for people in his position. It's very confronting. There's no point of reference anyone has in their life towards suddenly being on the set of a movie where someone's playing you. It's just like, unless you've got the biggest ego in the world, there's no one who is expecting that to happen to them. It's just a guy who's from nuts and bolts, rough as guts air of the Bronx who grew up as a really tough cop, and then suddenly we're making a movie based on things that happened in his life. I hope he likes the finished product. He's very respectful of all our jobs and all our process, so hopefully it's a positive thing for him.
[Deliver Us From Evil](movie:739915) is out in theaters nationwide on July 2, 2014.