Once Eric Bana laid his eyes on the roadrunning Ford Falcon Coupe driven by Mel Gibson in Mad Max, he was hooked.
The Aussie movie star (Star Trek, The Time Traveler’s Wife) — only 15 then — persuaded his dad to buy him a 1974 version of the model.

 

The ensuing love affair with that car is the subject of Bana’s intensely personal documentary, Love The Beast, released on DVD yesterday.

 

The film chronicles not only Bana’s fascination for all things automotive, especially race car driving, but also his 30-year journey with his beloved Beast, which he built up with a little help from his friends, only to completely wreck it during the challenging Targa Tasmania rally in 2007. Metro Drive recently chatted with Bana about his life as a dedicated gearhead:

How’s the coupe?
It’s being repaired and getting ready to be painted. Then I’ll start the very slow process of re-assembling it. It’s getting there slowly. I’m hoping to drop it by Christmas time … put it under the tree.

In the documentary, you say that you wished you’d broken a limb instead of wrecking the car …
The body heals a lots quicker, doesn’t it? (Laughs) It’s weird the relationship you have with a racecar. Part of the shock is that you can’t believe that you’ve just crashed it. You swear to yourself that you’ll never damage it, which is a stupid idea because when you go to a race you’ve got a good chance of doing something to it.

Why do you think people get so attached to their car, which is a piece of metal, essentially?
It’s the horse of our generation. It’s only natural that you get attached to it. I think there’s definitely an artistic connection as well, which can become an expression of ourselves. Also, anything you work on you can become attached to.

Will you ever do a proper car film?
I’ve had a couple of approaches over the years but never read anything that was overly tempting. The reality is that when you make a film you get to do very little driving. I just spend the whole weekend racing at my favourite race track and I’d much rather do it for real.

What cars do you drive?
When I am overseas, I drive cheap rental cars, to be honest. When I am at home (in Melbourne), I have a diesel four-wheel drive. I get around on motorcycles a lot.