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In "Troy," director Wolfgang Petersen ("Air Force One") tackles the ancient epic "The Iliad," in which the poet Homer wrote about Achilles (played by Brad Pitt) and the Greeks who laid siege to the city of Troy in hopes of retrieving the beautiful Helen, queen of Sparta, who had been stolen away from her husband. Hector (Eric Bana) is one of Troy's greatest warriors, and perhaps the city's greatest hope in defeating the Greeks. MTV News' Vanessa White Wolf sat down with the two opposing warriors to find out how they breathed new life into such an old tale.

[Editor's note: Brad Pitt and Eric Bana were posed the same questions separately, and their answers were combined for this piece.]

MTV: First off, how do you go about taking a 2,700-year-old poem like "The Iliad" and make it interesting for kids who are forced to read it in school and who probably associate it with homework and quizzes instead of adventure and fun?

 "Troy" Photos
Eric Bana: What you do is make a great movie like this one so they don't have to go and read the book, they can just go and watch the movie instead. No, no, no, they should read the book, absolutely. Look, we were blessed, we had a guy who was an "Iliad" freak — David Benioff, the writer — so we started out in the greatest possible place by having someone who understood it write a screenplay. So it was the greatest possible start, and things just kept going from there.

Brad Pitt: I don't know because I was not force-fed "The Iliad" as a kid. But I'll tell you, reading it, I really got lost in it. It's great. You first have to accept the vernacular, because it's in a different voice than we talk in contemporary times. But once you start latching on to that, to the rhythm of that, the story becomes ... it's a universal story, it's fantastic. I would recommend it.

MTV: And having a lot of good-looking men running around and fighting, that probably helped too.

Bana: And beautiful women and great actors. I mean, yeah, it was a dream come true.

MTV: In an interview last year, before you started filming in Mexico, Eric, you said, "I'm going to beat the crap out of him. I'm going to kick Brad's butt." Did that happen?

 Brad Pitt takes on Eric Bana in "Troy."
Pitt: [He laughs.] Did you see the movie? Need I say more? Script rules, script rules.

Bana: Yeah, we did beat the crap out of each other, absolutely. The final fight between our two characters is, you know, something so physical that you can't fake any of that stuff. There's no [trick] photography, it's all kind of for real. You have to go for it, so we did. We did beat each other up, but that's OK, we're good enough mates to not worry about it. We made a pact: Let's just go for it.

MTV: Any injuries?

Bana: [He points to his nose.] I do have a little Brad Pitt scar which I'll take to my grave.

Pitt: Yes, he does have a scar. We had a deal. You know, we rehearsed this fight forever, and so we really decided ... We knew it inside and out, so at this point [we were feeling like,] 'Let's go, let's go, let's go have some fun. Let's go have at it.' We had a deal that we were going to have to pay each other if one of us got out of hand and hit the other. ... I hit him. A few times.

MTV: So you paid him?

Pitt: I had to pay him a lot.

MTV: And didn't you actually hurt your Achilles tendon?

Pitt: It's a true story. It's sad, it's stupid, but it's true. It's so wrong. It's such a bad headline.

MTV: Eric, when you were cast in this movie, "Hulk" hadn't come out yet and you weren't as well known. Was it daunting for you at that point to know you'd be working with Peter O'Toole, Brian Cox and Brad Pitt, and that Wolfgang Petersen would be directing?

Bana: It's the opposite, because what you're doing is putting yourself in the greatest possible hands and giving yourself the greatest possible chance, you know, and it kind of works because it means that you're working with some really great people and you're as good as the person opposite you. If you enjoy acting, it's all about what happens between two people, and, you know, we all really looked after each other in this film and felt that we were in really good company. And then on top of that you've got the conductor, Wolfgang, who is just the greatest, so we felt really strong making this.

MTV: Brad, what about you? Some people may have this idea that you're just a pretty boy instead of an Achilles, an epic action hero. Did that even cross your mind when you were approached for this movie?

 "I'm on my own little quest." — Brad Pitt
Pitt: No, I'm on my own little quest. I gotta ... You get a handful of scripts each year, and you find one that's interesting to you and you want to investigate. And I've just got to keep on following that. And wherever that takes us, it takes us. And then, you know, when it is all said and done for me and I look back, I will try to define it then.

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Photo: Warner Bros.

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