Star Eric Bana chats about exploring the deep trauma of a rural Australian town as an emotionally wounded detective in his upcoming whodunit, The Dry.
Based on Jane Harper’s popular novel, murder mystery The Dry arrives in theaters and on demand May 21. The Australian whodunit was so sought after that it was optioned before it was even published, resulting in a talented cast led by screen gem Eric Bana (Dirty John).
Set in a rural Australian town, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns home after twenty years to attend the funeral of a childhood friend suspected of having killed his wife and son. When he is commissioned by his friend’s parents to investigate further, Aaron must contend with the demons of his own past before battling the ones in the present.
Bana spoke with Screen Rant about what drew him to Harper’s vivid world, and how he collaborated with director Robert Connolly to produce the most emotionally honest adaptation possible.
I read that you were immediately interested in playing Aaron Falk. What was it about Jane Harper’s novel that drew you in?
Eric Bana: Jane’s writing is really special. Her depiction of the landscape and rural Australia, I was really mesmerized by it. It’s an essential character really in the story, even though it’s a thriller. It’s a whodunit, but it’s set in a town that is drought ravaged, and it really affects the physical and emotional center of all the characters.
I just loved her writing. I was really moved by it, actually. And when the opportunity came to get involved and play Aaron, I just jumped at it.
The flashbacks with your younger selves are such a contrast to the present. What was it like to connect with the younger actor playing you, and did Joe Klocek consciously emulate you in certain ways?
Eric Bana: Yeah, we have a wonderful young cast to play the four characters in the flashbacks. Joe Klocek plays myself, and I got to spend a bit of time with Joe before we started filming. I just wanted him to be comfortable. He’s a wonderful young actor, and I didn’t want him to feel any pressure with this; there wasn’t any sort of imprinting of ideas and so forth. I just wanted him to feel confident and just play his own version.
He does a great job. And his abs are way better than mine, so it’s one of the reasons he was cast.
I really loved the bittersweet and almost lonely aspect of Gretchen and Aaron being the only two people left in their friend group. Can you talk a little bit about that dynamic and Aaron coming back to see her?
Eric Bana: Yeah, it’s something I really loved in the book. We have Genevieve O’Reilly playing Gretchen, who’s just phenomenal, and it sort of broke my heart when I read the book. There’s these two characters who had been so close as children coming back together for the funeral of their mutual best friend, and everything that unearths. And there may be a future there for the two of them in the present, and things happen that make that possible or not possible.
I found the book really moving, which is not usually the case with a thriller or a whodunit. We were really protective of that vision that Jane Harper had, and we wanted to make the most cinematic and emotional version of the source material. That was truly our aim, but I was just so moved by the book.
Were you part of that process, as a producer on the film? How did that affect your interpretation of Aaron or of any adaptational changes?
Eric Bana: I guess it was more a vision of the whole film. Rob, our director, and I worked closely together. We’re very close friends. And it’s about supporting the vision that we had for the film and making sure that it got there in the end. From a practical level, it was out of our office in Melbourne and in our home state that we were shooting, so I could get involved more so than when I’m working on overseas production because I live here.
So, it was really about just championing and being involved in all the levels that I don’t normally get to, because I’m physically not there.
I know there’s a Force of Nature sequel. Is that something that you are hoping to be able to do?
Eric Bana: I mean, it’s somewhat possible. The film’s been a phenomenon here in Australia, and the success of the film here has increased the pressure and the likelihood of something like that. But we’ll see; we’re just enjoying the moment the film’s having right now, and we’re excited about sharing it with overseas audiences. We’re really excited to see what people think about it over there.
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The Dry will be out in theaters and available on demand May 21.
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