Eric Bana immediately said yes to starring in 'The Forgiven'.

The 49-year-old actor portrays notorious murderer Piet Blomfeld in the new drama/thriller by Roland Joffe, which follows his attempt to seek redemption through meetings with Archbishop Desmond Tutu - played by Forest Whitaker - and Bana couldn't believe he was asked to star in the film.

In an interview with Collider, Bana said: ''I read the script and loved it, and couldn't believe that Roland was asking me to do it.

''At that stage, Forest was already attached, so I was able to read it with him in that role. I was just beside myself that he was coming to me to play Piet.

''We had a couple of great long telephone calls and I said yes, straight away. It was such a rare thing.

''Every actor dreams of finding scripts like this, but they're very hard to come across.''

The actor also said it was an ''unbelievable'' experience to work with Whitaker and revealed there was no rehearsing as they were on a ''very tight schedule''.

He said: ''It was unbelievable. It was incredibly intense because we were on a very tight schedule and we both had very, very intense characters to play, in our own way.

''I was very respectful of the amount of make-up time that Forest had and that his time on set was going to be extremely valuable.

''We threw ourselves into all of those things. The director gave us the option of breaking things up into sections, but we both decided to do every scene from start to finish.

''We were just ready to go, and there was no joking around or rehearsing or getting up to speed.

''We both got in that cell, cameras rolled and we just went for it.''

Bana also admitted he was thankful the shoot wasn't too long as his character wasn't one he'd like to play over a ''period of months''.

He said: ''It was a very short shoot, so I just led a very, very simply existence for the month, or whatever, that we were shooting.

''I enjoy being quite monastic when I'm playing that sort of character. I don't try to shake it off too much.

''I just try to sit with it, and then deal with it when it's over. It was okay.

''It wasn't a very long shoot and it was a very intense schedule, so that really helped. It's not a character that I'd like to play, over a period of months.''