Munich (2005): Characters and Actors–Eric Bana, Daniel Craig

There are many more speaking parts in this film than in any I’ve ever directed. It was very important not just to find different looks for each of the five men, but also to find five different acting styles, five different accents, five very unique personalities.
–Steven Spielberg

The five actors who form the mission team in Spieberg’s fact-based drama, are Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Mathiew Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, and Ciaran Hinds.

Eric Bana as Avner

Avner, the unlikely leader of the group, is also its youngest member and the only native Israeli. Intensely devoted to his country, Avner has never had to kill someone before this mission.

After meeting Spielberg on the cavernous set of “The Terminal,” Bana was taken aback to learn that Spielberg wanted him to take the lead role in an intense, controversial thriller: “I was shocked and surprised and thrilled and scared. I was only four or five at the time, but I always remembered some of the images, and it was a story that became very familiar to me through the years. It’s an event that keeps coming back at you, because it still seems so current.”

Daniel Craig as Steve

British actor Daniel Craig, who recently made global headlines when he was announced as the fresh new face of the legendary Agent 007 James Bond, plays Steve, the South-African born recruit who appears to be the group’s toughest, bravest, and most unwavering member.

“Steve is a character, who, on face value, seems to be very strong and very in control of his destiny. Like all the guys, he believes in this job because he believes in Israel. He believes some action has to be taken because of this terrible act at Munich. Steve is someone who has always dealt with life like a bull in a china shop. He just dives in headfirst and deals with the consequences later. Steve is very gung ho, but as the movie goes on, he suffers because of the terrible acts that they commit. That’s what interested me so much about doing the film. Steve is a flawed character, and he doesn’t expect to feel the emotional turmoil he starts feeling.”

Mathieu Kassovitz as Robert

French actor and director Kassovitz plays Robert, the Belgian member of the team. A talented toy maker, Robert is equally skilled at building deadly explosive devices. Robert is the most reluctant member of the assassination squad.

“I was blown away by the screenplay, by the structure of it, by the subtlety, by the intelligence, by the power and the guts. I think it’s a very smart movie about the concept of vengeance itself. Robert is an interesting man, because like all the characters in the group, he is not a trained killer. He’s more somebody who is committed to the cause of Israel and therefore believes he is ready to fight for his land and his beliefs. Robert joined the Army during the Six Day War and because he is a toy maker and very good with tiny mechanics, he became a bomb dismantler. But it’s not easy for him.”

Hanns Zischler as Hans

Prolific German actor Hanns Zischler takes on the role of Hans, a transplanted German Jew who poses as a quiet antique dealer, but is really a Mossad agent with a rare gift for forging documents.

“Hans is probably someone who left Germany in the 1930s, at the last possible moment with his family. He grew up in Israel, which was then Palestine, and was raised in both languages. Hans has this certain idea of being linked both to Israel and Germany in a very strange way, which comes to the fore after these events. He is also a very pensive person. He has never really been an activist, so he feels that he now has the chance to show his loyalty to Israel and his country through this service to the Mossad.”

Ciaran Hinds as Carl

Rounding out the team of five is the meticulous, organized, and cautious Carl, played by lauded Irish actor Ciaran Hinds.

“Hans and Carl belong to a different generation from the other three. These five guys are all very disparate, with different ages, different backgrounds, and different upbringings. They have been purposely selected for their different qualities. Within the group, Carl is the one who wants to be absolutely specific that the targets are clean, that there’s no collateral damage, that nobody innocent gets hurt. He truly believes there is a right way to do the job, no matter how awful it is.”