21st Century That Guy is a continuing series documenting the character actors that have become regulars over the past fifteen years, popping up in numerous movies you’ve seen, even if you don’t recognize them.
Actor : Ben Mendelsohn (Born April 3, 1969)
First Film Role : As Peter in The Still Point (1986)
You Might Have Seen Him In : The Place Beyond the Pines, The Dark Knight Rises, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Starred Up, Australia, Killing Them Softly
Who Is He : Though a well respected and honored actor in his native Australia for decades, Ben Mendelsohn has become a fixture of American cinema over the past few years, where he often plays an assortment of baddies, be they a crooked businessman, bank robber or biblical figure. No two have been the same, even if the morals are equally lackluster. Mendelsohn’s has been excellent in each of these supporting turns, convincingly portraying characters that are quietly competent (The Place Beyond the Pines), arrogant (The Dark Knight Rises) or pathetic (Killing Them Softly).
In the next dew days, Mendelsohn could be escaping anonymity, with a starring role in the new Netflix series “Bloodline” arriving. It’s too early to tell if this is a “Lilyhammer” or an “Orange is the New Black.” Either way, he is an actor deserving of greater recognition.
Favorite Performance : The movie which put Mendelsohn on the map for a lot of North American audiences, or at least cinephiles, was 2010’s Australian crime-drama Animal Kingdom. As Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody, he is the eldest son in a family of criminals, vicious in action and with his words. Mendelsohn makes Pope an unsettling figure, coolly talking to people about their day to day lives as he tries to snake himself into an advantageous position. With cold eyes, he unnerves via his stillness. Amidst all of this is a startling nuance, as we learn of Pope’s deep ties to his family and few trusted friends. This isn’t the first time a film has made a felon empathetic, but it is affecting nevertheless. All of this is rather remarkable, for in many of his other projects, Mendelsohn excels in kind of a twitchy theatricality, going big with the performances. Animal Kingdom can either prove his skills to those new to his work or wow you with his range.