NEWS

Can’t fall asleep? Hop into bed with Eric Bana. No, really.

The blockbuster movie star takes on an intimate new project.
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If you’ve ever dreamed of crawling into bed and having Eric Bana whisper sweet nothings in your ear as you drift off to sleep, then you’re not alone.

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In the first week that the A-lister’s soothing rendition of Desert Horizon by Australian writer and poet Caitlin Maling was available as a Sleepcast on the Headspace app, it was downloaded by more than 300,000 people.

For anyone who struggles to switch off and get a good night’s rest, the audio-guided bedtime story can be a saviour, having been designed to create the right conditions for sleep, while helping to increase mindfulness and reduce anxiety. And after the past two years, that is something everyone could benefit from.

“When I’m away working, I usually get by on a few hours a night, but that really starts to catch up,” the 53-year-old filmmaker tells WHO.

“So through the pandemic and lockdowns, it was interesting to find out what works for me, whether that was doing some reading, listening to a book, trying some mediation or using apps that help you drift off,” he adds, explaining he’s a fan of Sleepcasts.

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Eric Bana is taking on a dreamy new project. (Credit: Getty Images)

How does it feel to officially be the country’s best-loved actor after picking up the Favourite Australian Actor gong at the 2021 AACTAs in December?

I don’t know if that’s really the official determining factor [laughs]. It was very unexpected and a lot of fun.

Why did you want to be involved in recording a Sleepcast?

As a dad, I can understand and relate to people having problems with sleeping and the effect that can have, particularly on school-aged kids who have lots of distractions and struggle to focus. I was really interested in the science behind the app and how it works, and was chuffed when I was asked to be a part of it.

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Rebecca Gleeson and Eric Bana pose alongside their daughter Sophia and a friend. (Credit: Getty Images)

The Sleepcast essentially uses relaxation and meditation techniques. Are you a fan of using those to combat stress?

I try a mix of things depending on where I think the stress is coming from. I generally sleep pretty well but when I’m off shooting a film, it’s harder to wind down. I’ve definitely tried sleep apps, meditation and exercise to tire myself out. I think the first step in tackling the issue is just deciding to try something a bit different, and that might be a Sleepcast, then you’ve started exploring what works best for you.

Has the success of The Dry and being back in Oz for most of the pandemic inspired you to seek out more projects Down Under?

Not really because I’ve always looked for Australian projects. [The Dry director] Rob [Connolly] and I were looking for another project to do together since we made Romulus, My Father [in 2007]. It can just be hard to find great quality material and when you do, it’s really hard to get it off the ground, but I’ve really loved helping with that. After [helping to produce The Dry] it was great to share that success with Rob, who is a good mate, as it’s no fun celebrating on your own.

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Eric picked up the AACTA award in 2021. (Credit: Getty Images)

Do you see yourself working more behind the scenes in the future?

I don’t consider myself a producer for hire, I just really enjoy getting behind the scripts and projects I want to be involved in and doing everything I can to get them off the ground. If that means producing, I’m happy to do it.

You’ve become known for your dramatic roles but got your start in sketch comedy. Do you still see yourself as a comedian at heart?

My brain still works exactly the same way. When I watch the news, all I see are comedy sketches and what impressions I could do with them. Australia would’ve done well to have a sketch comedy show airing during 2021 and now. There is a lot of national and community therapy that we’d all benefit from if TV series Full Frontal was still around. There is a lack of that at the moment, taking the mickey out of what is happening as opposed to all being so serious.

Available at headspace.com/sleep/sleepcasts.

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