Yes, I can feel it—2013 will finally be the year America falls in love with Ben Mendelsohn. Although having worked in the industry for decades now, it was only until 2010’s Animal Kingdom that the Australian actor started garnering attention stateside—and rightfully so. You may have caught a glimpse of him in Terrence Malick’s The New World or Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, but it was his performance in this fall’s Killing Them Softly that got my full attention and made me want to see more of the man who seems to have an affinity for intense characters on the fringe.
In Andrew Dominik’s politically charged crime drama, he played opposite Scoot McNairy—to which Dominik said, "[he’s] someone I’ve known since we were teenagers…I knew that that character was something he could do with his one arm tied behind his back." To my dismay, Killing Them Softly seemed to be either panned or overlooked by critics, which is a shame not only for Dominik and his fantastic directorial ability, for the actors involved. Ben gave a memorable performance in his supporting role, but what stood out the most was the fact that amongst the likes of Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini, McNairy not only held his own but outshined everyone. Anyhow, Mendelsohn can next be found alongside Ryan Gosling in Derek Cianfrance’s incredible sprawling triptych drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. It also appears Gosling has cast him to star in his upcoming directorial debut How to Catch a Monster with Christina Hendricks.
But as of late, it’s been reported that Mendelsohn will star in Mississippi Grind with Jake Gyllenhaal, a new independent drama from the people who brought you 2006’s Gosling-helmed feature, Half Nelson. Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s film will follow “a down-on-his-luck gambler (Mendelsohn) facing crushing debt who teams up with a younger gambling addict (Gyllenhaal) in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what has been lost.”
Well, this is exactly what I like to hear. The more Mendelsohn, the better. Enjoy this brief clip from Pines.