Ever since the early 2010s, Ben Mendelsohn has been making a big splash in American cinema. Although he’s been working since the late 1980s, this Australian character actor has been getting his due in a significant way. With his chill voice and piercing eyes, his trademark has been playing villains and/or shady deadbeats. Also, he celebrates his 51st birthday today. In honor of this occasion, we’ll be acknowledging some of his best work.
First up is “Animal Kingdom,” the performance that put him on the map. Although his co-star Jacki Weaver received awards traction, Mendelsohn remains the picture’s unsung hero. He is paralyzingly sinister as the sociopathic Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody, observing those around him as if they’re prey. Even when Pope appears welcoming, his eyes always suggest ulterior motives.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Robin from “The Place Beyond the Pines” is more genuinely affable. The aptly-named character is almost like a modern-day Robin Hood. A former criminal with a heart of gold who robbed banks to provide for himself. His sincerity makes him worlds away from the villains that Mendelsohn has often been typecast as.
Similarly, Gerry from “Mississippi Grind” is a fascinating anti-hero. Down on his luck and drowning in debt, Gerry tries to sleaze his way out of trouble. Yet, with Mendelsohn’s nervous trembling and jaunty charm, it’s hard not to root for Gerry. A rare starring vehicle for the often supporting player, “Mississippi Grind,” earned Mendelsohn a Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead.
As for his recent string of villain roles, most of them have been in the blockbuster fare. Amongst them, “Captain Marvel” is a highlight. As the shapeshifter Talos, Mendelsohn is masterfully elusive. His continuous distance from the camera illustrates Talos’ ambiguous intentions. In addition, his sly comic delivery makes Talos more than a stock Marvel antagonist.
Now, we’ll toss things off to you. Be sure to say which performance from the Emmy winner that you like the most.