Eric Bana did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mark Brandon 'Chopper' Read in Chopper.
It's always rather funny when an actor's early role differs so much from his later output. This is the case for Eric Bana, who actually was a comedian before this film, and afterwards often plays rather clean cut sort of fellows. As Mark Brandon Read who is nicknamed Chopper Bana is the exact opposite of his later roles. There is nothing clean about Chopper not only because of his criminal conduct but also just his general appearance and style is always rather uncouth to say the least. The funny thing is Eric Bana actually seems to be at his most comfortable giving a very naturalistic performance as Chopper Read despite how strange of a man Chopper is.
Eric Bana lets everything hand out in this performance, and I don't mean that in just figurative sort of way. Bana really realizes Chopper has a character with his performance here that quite flawlessly treads the line between realistically absurd and well just absurd. Chopper is an absurd man especially with everything that he ends up doing can be seen as quite ridiculous to say the least. What Eric Bana has to do is make Chopper's behavior all in the same man and he does that with his characterization of Chopper. Bana has the right ease in this role and goes right about depicting Chopper in all his slovenly glory. Bana takes on the role with a great aplomb and makes Chopper a most intriguing character to follow.
Chopper is a most unusual criminal and Bana plays him in a most unusual way. Bana oddly endearing in the role as Chopper who he portrays as a man who is always being himself for better or worse and usually that means for he worse. Chopper is a dangerous man capable of violence at a very short notice if need be. The way Bana works a scene of violence is remarkable because of how casual he is despite the rather extreme circumstances. Bana gives what is best described as a comedic dramatic performance. In that he is comic in the way he acts, but it is a dramatic performance in that Chopper is made always to be an actual person. The fact that Bana is able to work this is the strength of the performance which is what gives this film its unconventional flavor.
The idea of Chopper becoming a popular writer well being a petty criminal is made believable by Bana's performance which creates this strange dynamic within the man. That dynamic being that Chopper is a bit of a criminal genius whose also an idiot. Chopper's plans often are quite brilliant in a strange sort of way yet he works through them as if he was a fool. Bana is great in realizing this strangeness of Chopper in his performance where he does suggest a certain slyness in the man even while he seems to be one of the most unintelligent men alive. Bana does not change back and forth in it but instead intertwines his loutish behavior right with his surprising smarter side. It seems an impossible thing but Bana does manage to pull it off in a genuine fashion.
This is not a film about a man learning something but rather an examination of a rare thug who employs all his tricks to first get out of jail, then almost employ all of them to get back into jail. The only time Chopper even seems to slightly take anything into account when he kills a men sort of accidentally. Bana is quite good in the scene as he shows Chopper actually taken aback by something for once. Bana still keeps him Chopper and he does not really show a killing someone guilt but rather a pretty simple "whoops" sort of apology. The whole challenge for Bana here though was the bring the bizarre man to life as a believable character. Eric Bana does just that with his performance here that is a very entertaining and strange compelling portrait of one unique and deranged fellow.