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Ben Mendelsohn

Ben Mendelsohn (born 1969) is in Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012) in a significant role, and just before that was seen in no smaller a film than The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012). I guess the breakthrough was Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010) for which Jacki Weaver got an Oscar nom, which means that it would have been seen by a lot of ppl in Los Angeles.

The obvious comparison, and I think not only in my mind, is with Noah Taylor. They were born in the same year (1969), and worked together in three films, even being cast as brothers in one (True Love and Chaos, Stavros Efthymiou, 1997). But as soon as he could (after he was noticed in Oscar-winner Shine, Scott Hicks, 1996) Taylor leapt into overseas film-making, while Mendo seemed to prefer to stay here—or maybe just had to wait for another decade until being noticed in Animal Kingdom.

Of his earlier films, my favourite by a big margin is Idiot Box (David Caesar, 1996) in which he and his crazy mate played by Jeremy Sims decide to rob a bank because they think they're so clever they could do it better. It's in my top ten: Mendelsohn's acting, particularly in the ending, is outasight. It's possible many people will remember better the romcom The Big Steal (Nadia Tass, 1990) because it's a funny, feelgood movie, with Claudia Karvan as Ben's love interest, Tim Robertson as her father, and Marshall Napier as his. Then there's the much more serious Metal Skin (Geoffrey Wright, 1995) in which Mendo easily acts Aden Young and everyone else off the screen.

There is much more of his earlier stuff. But in Animal Kingdom Ben Mendelsohn arrived at a new high point in acting. Thus having been noticed by the Dream Factory, he is now launched into a stellar career. Judging from Killing Me Softly, it is where he belongs: among the stars.

Select Filmography

Year My Voice Broke, The (John Duigan, 1987) Kennedy-Miller; Noah Taylor, Loene Carmen, Ben Mendelsohn, Graeme Blundell, Lynette Curran, Malcolm Robertson, Judi Farr, Tim Robertson, Bruce Spence, Harold Hopkins, Nick Tate, Vincent Ball, Anja Coleby, Kylie Ostara, Kelly Dingwall, Dorothy St Heaps, Colleen Clifford, Kevin Manser, Mary Regan, Queenie Ashton; coming-of-age, rite of passage; 105 min.

Lover Boy (Geoffrey Wright, 1989) wr. Geoffrey Wright; Noah Taylor (Mick), Gillian Jones (Sally), Ben Mendelsohn (Gaz), Daniel Pollock (Duck), Alice Garner (Rhonda), Peter Hosking (Lex), Beverley Gardiner (Mick's mother); 16 mm. 57 min.; inappropriate liaison between teenager and woman three times his age ends tragically; on the DVD with Metal Skin

Big Steal, The (Nadia Tass, 1990) wr. David Parker with Max Dunn, dp David Parker; Ben Mendelsohn, Claudia Karvan, Steve Bisley, Marshall Napier, Damon Herriman, Angelo d'Angelo, Tim Robertson; romantic comedy, revenge fantasy (aka Marc Clark van Ark, or Mark van Ark)

Return Home (Ray Argall, 1990) wr. Ray Argall, dp Mandy Walker; Dennis Coard, Frankie J. Holden, Ben Mendelsohn, Micki Camilleri, Rachel Rains; see also Eight Ball; two brothers reunited; AFI Best Director

Nirvana Street Murder (Aleksi Vellis, 1991) wr. Aleksi Vellis; Mark Little (Boady), Ben Mendelsohn (Luke), Mary Coustas (Helen), Sheila Florance (Molly); black comedy

Spotswood (Mark Joffe, 1992) aka The Efficiency Expert; Anthony Hopkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Alwyn Kurts, Bruno Lawrence, John Walton, Rebecca Rigg, Toni Collette, Russell Crowe; mocassin factory shaken by arrival of time-and-motion expert

Map of the Human Heart (Vincent Ward, 1993) wr. Louis Nowra, Vincent Ward; Patrick Bergin, Anne Parillaud, Jason Scott-Lee, Jeanne Moreau, Ben Mendelsohn, John Cusack, Robert Joamie, Annie Galipeau; set in Northern Canada; Aust/UK/Canada/France copro

Sirens (John Duigan, 1994) Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Sam Neill, Elle Macpherson, Portia de Rossi, Kate Fischer, Pamela Rabe, Ben Mendelsohn, John Polson, John Duigan (earnest minister); review by Adrian Martin in Murray 1995: 393; Norman Lindsay story

Metal Skin (Geoffrey Wright, 1995) wr. Geoffrey Wright, prod. Daniel Scharf, Southern Star; Aden Young (Joe), Tara Morice (Savina), Ben Mendelsohn (Dazey), Nadine Garner (Roslyn), Chantal Contouri (Savina's mother); drama, thriller; psycho Joe, urban misfit, craves the respect of his peers on the streets and the love of a nice girl who secretly practises black magic

Cosi (Mark Joffe, 1996) wr. Louis Nowra (also play); prod. Richard Brennan, Timothy White; Barry Otto (Roy), Ben Mendelsohn (Lewis), Toni Collette (Julie), Pamela Rabe (Ruth), Jacki Weaver (Cherry), Paul Chubb (Henry), Colin Hay (Zac), David Wenham (Doug), Colin Friels (Errol), Aden Young (Nick), Rachel Griffiths (Lucy), Kerry Fletcher (OT person), Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Robin Ramsay (the Minister); set in asylum; based to some extent on Louis Nowra's own experience - but he produced Trial by Jury

Idiot Box (David Caesar, 1996) wr. David Caesar, prod. Nicki Roller, Glenys Rowe; Ben Mendelsohn (Kev), Jeremy Sims (Mick), John Polson (Jonah), Susie Porter (Betty); Kev and Mick rob a bank cos it seems like a good idea at the time; 82 min.

True Love and Chaos (Stavros Andonis Efthymiou, 1996) wr. Stavros Andonis Efthymiou, prod. Anne Darrouzet; Naveen Andrews, Kimberley Davies, Ben Mendelsohn, Miranda Otto, Geneviève Picot, Noah Taylor, Hugo Weaving

Amy (Nadia Tass, 1998) prod. Nadia Tass, David Parker; wr. David Parker; dp David Parker; Rachel Griffiths, Alana de Roma, Ben Mendelsohn, Nick Barker, Kerry Armstrong, Jeremy Trigatti, William Zappa, Sullivan Stapleton, Torquil Neilson, Mary Ward, Susie Porter; little girl won't speak after the sudden death of her father, and will only communicate in song; she ceases to speak as a result of family trauma: her father, a rock musician, dies on stage as she watches

Love Brokers (Garnet Mae, 1998) wr. Garnet Mae; Ben Mendelsohn, Megan Connolly, Garnet Mae, Malina Hamilton-Smith, Christopher Mae, Raymond Meyer, Rudy Meyer, Chantelle Corbet; former prostitutes now petty criminals

Secret Men's Business (Ken Cameron, 1999) telemovie, wr. Nicholas Hammond, Christopher Lee; Ben Mendelsohn, Marcus Graham, Simon Baker, Jeremy Sims, Jeremy Callaghan, Maya Stange, Joel Edgerton

Sample People (Clinton Smith, 2000) wr. Peter Buckmaster, prod. Emile Sherman, Barton Smith; Kylie Minogue, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Lyndon, David Field, Paula Arundell, Joel Edgerton, Nathalie Roy, Nathan Page, Justin Rosniak, Matthew Wilkinson, Gandhi MacIntyre

Mullet (David Caesar, 2001) wr. David Caesar; Ben Mendelsohn, Susie Porter, Andrew S. Gilbert, Belinda McClory, Tony Barry, Kris McQuade, Peta Brady, Wayne Blair, Paul Kelman, Steve Le Marquand, Aaron Blabey, Jim Webb, Nash Edgerton, Bryan Brown (publican's voice); 89 min.

Black and White (Craig Lahiff, 2002) wr. Louis Nowra; Robert Carlyle, Charles Dance, Kerry Fox, Colin Friels, Ben Mendelsohn, David Ngoombujarra; premiere Sydney Film Festival 7 June 2002

Beautiful Kate (Rachel Ward, 2009) Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe, Maeve Dermody; family melodrama; Australian release 6 August 2009

Prime Mover (David Caesar, 2009) comic drama; William McInnes, Andrew S. Gilbert, Lynette Curran, Jeanette Cronin, Gyton Grantley, Emily Barclay, Michael Dorman, Anthony Hayes, Ben Mendelsohn

Animal Kingdom (David Michôd, 2010) Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Jacki Weaver; crime; Cannes

Needle (John V. Soto, 2010) wr. Anthony Egan, John V. Soto; prod. Deidre Kitcher, dp Stephen F. Windon; Ben Mendelsohn, John Jarratt, Khan Chittenden, Luke Carroll, Michael Loney, James Hagan; horror; WA; 90 min.

Adoration (Anne Fontaine, 2013) aka Adore in the US, aka Two Mothers; wr. Christopher Hampton, novella Doris Lessing, The Grandmothers; Robin Wright, Naomi Watts, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn, Sophie Lowe; family melodrama; Sundance; Australian release Nov 2013

Slow West (John Maclean, 2015) Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn

... followed by many films in the US, including The Darkest Hour, in which he plays George VI

Garry Gillard | New: 24 August, 2014 | Now: 19 May, 2020