Aussie Actor Is Front-Runner to Play Hulk

Need to cast an action hero? Get an Australian — after all, it worked with Gladiator and X-Men, which made the most of burly Aussie hunks Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. Now Eric Bana may be the next Aussie import to become a household name in the United States. Bana, an Australian stand-up comic-turned star of the cult film Chopper, is reportedly the front-runner to play the title character in The Incredible Hulk, Universal's adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise to be directed by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Ang Lee, Variety's Michael Fleming reports.

The studio has been looking for the right guy to play the dual role of Dr. Bruce Banner, the scientist, who, after being exposed to radiation, morphs into the muscular green superhero. On the 1970s TV show, Banner and his big, green alter ego, were played by two different actors, specifically, Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Hmm, "Bana is Bruce Banner" kinda has a nice ring to it.

No deal has yet been made for Bana, who just wrapped the Ridley Scott-directed Black Hawk Down, Fleming reports.

Just how the Hulk will be created — whether by makeup or by special effects — has yet to be determined. Fleming discounts reports that Oscar-winning makeup whiz Rick Baker has already signed to the film.