In the new Netflix comedy Special Correspondents (out today), Munich star Eric Bana plays a New York-based radio journalist who pretends he is reporting on a war when in fact he and a colleague, portrayed by Ricky Gervais, are holed up above a Spanish restaurant in Queens.
“Eric plays a sort of washed-up local celebrity,” says Gervais, who wrote and directed the film. “He’s on radio but it didn’t work out like he thought. I’m a little nerd, I look up to him. But our mutual boss, played by Kevin Pollak, he doesn’t like him. As sort of a punishment, he sends him to a skirmish in Ecuador that’s building up. I decide to go with him but I accidentally throw away the tickets and passports. Then I come up with the idea that we can fake the war. So, we go to this Spanish restaurant across the road from the radio station and we start faking reports. Of course, it gets out of hand, we pretend we’re missing, we pretend we’ve been taken hostage, and it all goes a bit haywire. And we’re couped up together. The meat of the film is these two Laurel and Hardy-esque people getting under each other’s skin.”
Although Bana is known for playing dramatic roles, he actually began his career as a stand-up comic — something which Gervais didn’t actually know before casting him in the film. “I thought he was this fantastic, brooding, actor, and an action hero as well. And I found out he’s a putz like me, which is good. He’s an idiot. He’s a stupid, big, lumpy idiot, just like me. But he’s got great comic timing.”
Special Correspondents also stars Vera Farmiga, Kelly Macdonald, America Ferrera, Raúl Castillo, and Benjamin Bratt.