Hollywood star Eric Bana wants to bring the remarkable story of Mike Hailwood's return to the Isle of Man TT to the big screen.
Bana, a genuine car and bike enthusiast, is currently working on the screenplay for the 'Mike the Bike' movie. He plans to play the lead role of Hailwood and co-direct the film alongside friend Robert Connolly.
Rather than a biopic format covering Hailwood's entire life and career, the film will focus on his remarkable comeback to two-wheel racing in the late 1970s.
After an 11-year hiatus, which included a stint in Formula 1, Hailwood returned to bike racing in 1977 – and famously triumphed at the Isle of Man TT a year later on a Ducati. He then won the Senior TT race on a Suzuki the following year, before finally retiring for good.
He was killed in a road crash while picking up fish and chips two years later.
The movie project has been approved by the Hailwood family, Bana working closely with Mike's widow Pauline before her passing in June this year.
"I've been working on the screenplay for the last couple of years, and it is essentially the story of Mike's comeback," Bana revealed on the Rusty's Garage podcast.
"I'm not looking to tell the story of his life. It's a very particular idea that I have that I'd like to pursue."
"We feel that indebted to the Hailwood family, in particular Pauline, who unfortunately recently passed away. Her contribution has been immense.
"She's someone that's been incredible to get to know and talk to. One of the great, great women of this world and motorsport."
According to Bana, the appeal of telling Hailwood's story extends beyond his phenomenal talent on two wheels.
"Everything you hear about him, second-hand, third-hand, he was just the most terrific bloke," said Bana.
"He came from quite a privileged background, but had this ability to be able to talk on the same level to everyone he came into contact with. He just did things in a matter-of-act, normal way.
"The overwhelming thing is this great sense of humour, which I love, and [he was] just this fantastic person."
Melbourne-based Bana had hoped to have the film in production by next year, however the coronavirus pandemic has put paid to that.
"We don't have a timeline," he explained. "I'll just be making the most of this time working on the script.
"Because of the kind of project that it is, it's not like a narrative feature that we can reconfigure to shoot here in Victoria. It's one of those projects where we kind of need the world to be back to normal to put together.
"It is a real bummer. In a perfect world we would have loved to have looked at 2021 to be attempting to make it. Obviously that's impossible.
"But it doesn't change a lot of things. It doesn't change the desire, it doesn't change the kind of film that I want to make, it doesn't change the pitch that I gave to the Hailwood family. All those things remain intact. The script won't change. We'll just do everything we can to turn it into an actual movie rather than just a chance.
"A lot of these things are about timing. Putting movies together, and putting movie financing together in particular, is really about momentum and timing. And right now that doesn't exist in the film space.
"We'll pick up the pieces and do everything we possible can when this is all over."