Music & Memories

Ben Mendelsohn returns in a blaze of glory

ben mendelsohn

Ben Mendelsohn has returned home to Australia in a blaze of Bloodline carried on a Death Star.

The actor's success in the US has been immense since his turn on the award-winning Animal Kingdom in 2010, though he says his work at home has still been the more prolific chunk of his career.

"The Australian part (of his career) has still got decades on the American part but you get more of a fuss made of you for the American part, there's no doubt about it," Mendelsohn told AAP in Sydney.

It's hard not to make a fuss over his achievements including a role in the massive movie Star Wars: Rogue One and the Netflix series Bloodline. He's home for the Sydney Film Festival, for the first time in a few years, to promote the film Una, Australian theatre director Benedict Andrews' first feature film.

In the movie, Mendelsohn's skill at playing darker, unhinged characters takes a psychological turn as he takes on the role of a paedophile faced with the girl he abused, now a grown woman played by Rooney Mara.

"You don't have to look terribly far in my body of work to realise that playing loveable guys is not the first order of choice," he said.

"I read that script and I was exhilarated. I hadn't seen the play so I hadn't been exposed to it before. I can remember reading that, and it's a pretty intense psychological thriller first and foremost. The subject matter is really intense and it's one of the reasons that it kind of can leave you so breathless."

One of the main reasons he signed on to the film, he says, was to work with Andrews who had directed him in a Sydney Theatre Company production of Julius Caesar.

He remains, he says, indebted to many players in the Australian film, TV and theatre industry for encouraging his career. During a fallow period in the early 2000s he contemplated throwing it all away, but didn't thanks to film critic David Stratton.

"I was thinking quite seriously about leaving and David Stratton said 'you've got something really worthwhile' and he said some really nice things to me which have stayed with me and which I really treasure because I like being a part of the history of this thing we've done," he said.

"There was a period of quite a few years where things were pretty quiet in my 30s and it just felt like 'oh well, this is more or less over. I've had my run, it's a good run' and all that, but these things come to an end and this is looking like it's come to an end so I'd better find something else to do' and he was very, very good to me."

He will return home to work on something again, he's sure of it.

"I have no doubt, everything else not withstanding, I have no doubt and I look forward to hopefully doing many many things here," he said.

*Ben Mendelsohn will appear In-Conversation at the Sydney Film Festival Hub on Saturday June 10 at 2pm (AEST)

*Una is showing at the Sydney Film Festival and will release in Australian cinemas on June 22.

© AAP 2017
Image: Brendan Esposito

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