Ben Mendelsohn

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Ben Mendelsohn
Ben Mendelsohn by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Mendelsohn in 2017
BornPaul Benjamin Mendelsohn
(1969-04-03) 3 April 1969 (age 49)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Emma Forrest

Paul Benjamin Mendelsohn (born 3 April 1969) is an Australian actor, who first rose to prominence in Australia for his role in The Year My Voice Broke (1987) and internationally for his role in the crime drama Animal Kingdom (2010).

Since then he has had roles in films such as The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Starred Up (2013), Mississippi Grind (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Darkest Hour (2017) and Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ready Player One (2018). In 2017, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is slated to appear in Captain Marvel (2019).

Mendelsohn starred in the Netflix series Bloodline (2015–2017), for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series from two nominations, and received a Golden Globe nomination.

Early life and family[edit]

Mendelsohn was born in Melbourne, Victoria, the son of Carole Ann (née Ferguson) and Frederick Arthur Oscar Mendelsohn.[1][2] His father is a prominent medical researcher who previously headed the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne, where he maintains the status of Professor Emeritus.[3] Ben and his two brothers, Tom and David, as well as his mother (deceased), a registered nurse, lived in Europe and the US for long periods of time, and returned to Melbourne when he was in high school. He attended Heidelberg Primary School and Eltham High and Banyule High schools. He took drama because he thought it was an easy class. Mendelsohn was the only one of his friends to follow up with an audition for Crawford Productions that was being advertised.[citation needed]

In October 2009, he was featured in an episode of the Australian series Who Do You Think You Are?, which traced the ancestry of his paternal grandfather, who was from a Jewish family, as well as of convicts on his mother's side. Searching for a connection to composer Felix Mendelssohn, which was eventually dismissed, he discovered links to 19th-century Prussia. His ancestors were among the first Prussian Jews to be naturalised in Schneidemühl in the province of Posen, now Piła in modern Poland.[4] He also has Greek, German, and British Isles ancestry.[5]


Mendelsohn at a screening of Killing Them Softly in 2012

After several early television roles, including The Henderson Kids alongside Kylie Minogue, he attracted notice in his breakout film, The Year My Voice Broke (1987), and won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor.[6] His next major role was in The Big Steal (1990), and Spotswood (1992), co-starring with Anthony Hopkins;[7] this was followed in 1994 by Metal Skin[8] and in 1996 by Cosi and Idiot Box. In 2000, he was in two contrasting films, the Australian Mullet and the Hollywood Vertical Limit.[citation needed]

In 2005, he was preparing to play Mark Antony in the Sydney Theatre Company-produced Julius Caesar,[9] and he was in the Terrence Malick-directed film The New World.

In 2007, Mendelsohn starred in the third season of the TV series Love My Way and in 2008, he appeared in Baz Luhrmann's Australia. He filmed the 10-part Melbourne series Tangle, which premiered on Showcase in 2009. In 2009, he appeared in the American science fiction film Knowing directed by Alex Proyas. The same year, Mendelsohn starred as Ned in Beautiful Kate, directed by Rachel Ward, opposite Bryan Brown and Rachel Griffiths.

In 2010, he appeared in Animal Kingdom, starring in the film as Andrew "Pope" Cody, a criminal on the run from the law living in the notorious Melbourne Underworld. The role won him many awards, including IF Award's Best Actor and the AFI's award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He was also named by GQ Australia as Actor of the Year for 2010.[10]

Mendelsohn was selected as one of the subjects in the Who's Who in Australia 2012 edition.[11] In 2012, Mendelsohn played the supporting roles of John Daggett in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises and Robin Van Der Hook in Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines.

In 2012, he appeared in Florence + the Machine's music video for "Lover to Lover". The video was directed by Vincent Haycock. In 2013, he guest starred in the TV series Girls as the father of Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke.

In 2014, Mendelsohn joined the cast of Bloodline, a Netflix original from the creators of Damages. The first season premiered on the site on 20 March 2015 and was well received. Mendelsohn's performance on the series was lauded by critics,[12][13][14] resulting in a Primetime Emmy Award win as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination. In September 2016, Netflix announced that the show had been cancelled, and that it would end after its third season in 2017. Season 3 of Bloodline received negative reviews, and Mendelsohn appeared in two episodes of it.[15][16]

In 2016, he appeared in video as an onstage "stand-in" during the Nostalgia For the Present concert tour of Australian singer Sia Furler for her song, "Breathe Me".[17]

In December 2016, he had a supporting role in the Star Wars franchise's Rogue One, portraying villain Director Krennic. He called the opportunity to act in a Star Wars film "a childhood dream come true".[18] Mendelsohn also narrated the virtual band Gorillaz' fifth album Humanz.

Depictions in art[edit]

While filming Adoration, Mendelsohn took time free to pose for artist Sally West, whom he had been neighbours with in Bondi in the 1990s. The resulting portrait has been nominated for several awards.[19]

An impression of Mendelsohn is featured repeatedly on the podcast by Australian sketch comedy group, Aunty Donna. Mendelsohn is played by Broden Kelly and is often an imitation of his character from the 2010 film Animal Kingdom.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Mendelsohn married British author Emma Forrest in June 2012.[20] He has two daughters, one with Forrest, born in 2014, and one from a previous relationship.[21] He divorced from Forrest in 2016.



Year Title Role Director Notes
1986 The Still Point Peter Barbara Boyd-Anderson
1987 The Year My Voice Broke Trevor Leishman John Duigan AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1989 Lover Boy Gazza Geoffrey Wright
1990 The Big Steal Danny Clarke Nadia Tass Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nirvana Street Murder Luke Aleksi Vellis
Return Home Gary Ray Argall
Quigley Down Under O'Flynn Simon Wincer
1992 Spotswood Carey Mark Joffe Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Map of the Human Heart Farmboy Vincent Ward
1993 Say a Little Prayer Nursery Manager Richard Lowenstein
Sirens Lewis John Duigan
1994 Metal Skin Dazey Geoffrey Wright Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor – Male
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1996 Idiot Box Kev David Caesar
Cosi Lewis Riley Mark Joffe
1997 True Love and Chaos Jerry Stavros Efthymiou
Amy Robert Buchanan Nadia Tass Camério Award for Best Actor
1999 Love Brokers Garnet Mae
2000 Vertical Limit Malcolm Bench Martin Campbell
Sample People John Clinton Smith
2001 Mullet Eddie "Mullet" Maloney David Caesar Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor – Male
2002 Black and White Rupert Murdoch Craig Lahiff
2005 The New World Ben Terrence Malick
2008 $9.99 Lenny Peck (voice) Tatia Rosenthal
Australia Captain Dutton Baz Luhrmann
2009 Prime Mover Johnnie David Caesar
Beautiful Kate Ned Kendall Rachel Ward Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated—Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor – Male
Knowing Phil Beckman Alex Proyas
2010 Needle Detective Meares John V. Soto
Animal Kingdom Andrew "Pope" Cody David Michôd AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
IF Award for Best Actor
Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor – Male
2011 Killer Elite Martin Gary McKendry
Trespass Elias Joel Schumacher
2012 The Dark Knight Rises John Daggett Christopher Nolan
Killing Them Softly Russell Andrew Dominik
The Place Beyond the Pines Robin Van Der Hook Derek Cianfrance
2013 Starred Up Neville Love David Mackenzie BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Village Voice Film Poll for Best Supporting Actor
Two Mothers Harold Anne Fontaine
2014 Lost River Dave Ryan Gosling
Exodus: Gods and Kings Viceroy Hegep Ridley Scott
2015 Black Sea Fraser Kevin Macdonald
Slow West Payne John Maclean
Mississippi Grind Gerry Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Guns for Hire Kyle Sullivan Donna Robinson
2016 Una Ray Brooks Benedict Andrews
Rogue One Director Orson Krennic Gareth Edwards
2017 Darkest Hour King George VI Joe Wright Nominated—AACTA International Award for Best Supporting Actor
2018 Ready Player One Nolan Sorrento Steven Spielberg
Untogether Martin Emma Forrest
The Land of Steady Habits Anders Hill Nicole Holofcener
Robin Hood Sheriff of Nottingham Otto Bathurst
2019 Captain Marvel Talos Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Post-production
The King King Henry IV David Michôd Post-production
Spies in Disguise Nick Bruno
Troy Quane
Voice role; In production


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Special Squad Episode: "Slow Attack"
1985 A Country Practice Luke Dawson 2 episodes
The Henderson Kids Ted Morgan 4 episodes
1986 Prime Time Bartholomew "Bart" Jones
Fame and Misfortune John
1986–1987 Neighbours Warren Murphy 19 episodes
1987, 1989 The Flying Doctors Brad Harris / Brian 2 episodes
1988 All the Way Lindsay Seymour 3 episodes
1989 This Man... This Woman Matthew Clarke 3 episodes
1989, 1994 G.P. Max Fisher / Phillip Barton 2 episodes
1994 Roughnecks Joe 90 Episode 1.4
1995 Snowy River: The McGregor Saga Dale Banks Episode: "High Country Justice"
Police Rescue Dean Forman Episode: "Wild Card"
Halifax f.p. Peter Donaldson Episode: "My Lovely Girl"
1996 Close Ups Biz
1997 Good Guys, Bad Guys Brian O'Malley Episode: "Unfinished Business"
1999 Queen Kat, Carmel & St Jude Vince McCaffery 4 episodes
Secret Men's Business Doug Petersen Television film
2001 Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story Alexander Hall Television film
2002 Farscape Sko Episode: "I-Yensch, You-Yensch "
2005 The Secret Life of Us Rob 5 episodes
Second Chance Dr. Larry Stewart Television film
2006–2007 Love My Way Lewis Feingold 15 episodes
Nominated—Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actor (2007)
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama (2007)
Nominated—ASTRA Award Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor – Male (2007–2008)
2009 Tangle Vince Kovac 10 episodes
Nominated—Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actor (2010)
Nominated—ASTRA Award Most Outstanding Performance by an Actor – Male (2010)
2013 Girls Salvatore Johansson Episode: "Video Games"
2015–2017 Bloodline Danny Rayburn 23 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2016)
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2016)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2015)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (2017)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2016)
Nominated—Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2015)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film (2016)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2018 Squadron 42 Julian Wexler Voice / Motion Capture


Year Title Role Notes
2017 Humanz by Gorillaz Narrator Voice

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Role
1993 Full Moon, Dirty Hearts INXS Unfaithful Lover
1998 What I Don't Know 'bout You You Am I Waiter
2012 Lover to Lover Florence and the Machine Lover


  1. ^ "Ben Mendelsohn – Episode 3 – Season 2 – Who Do You Think You Are?". SBS. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  2. ^ Sullivan, Leanne (2009). Who's Who in Australia. Crown Content. ISBN 978-1-74095-166-1. Retrieved 13 April 2014 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Professor Fred Mendelsohn". The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are?". SBS.
  5. ^ "Ben Mendelsohn: behind the bad guy mask". 26 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Film institute award winners". Canberra Times. 10 October 1987. p. 10. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  7. ^ McDonald, Dougal (22 February 1992). "Feel-good movie, but lacks drama, tension". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). p. 42. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  8. ^ McDonald, Dougal (6 May 1995). "Probing young people's injured psyches". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). p. 56. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Ben Mendelsohn: Mark Antony". Life Matters. ABC Radio National. 18 July 2005.
  10. ^ "Ben Mendelsohn". GQ. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  11. ^ Delany, Colin (8 December 2011). "Emile Sherman, Ben Mendelsohn and Lizzy Gardiner recognised in 2012's Who's Who". Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  12. ^ McFarland, K. M. (24 March 2015). "Kyle Chandler Isn't Bloodline's Star. This Unknown Actor Is". Wired. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  13. ^ Grozdanovic, Nikola (31 March 2015). "Netflix Neo-Noir 'Bloodline' Gives Viewers The Tragic Anti-Hero Television Has Been Waiting For Since Walter White". Indiewire. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  14. ^ Fowler, Matt (24 March 2015). "Bloodline: Season 1 Review". IGN. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  15. ^ Travers, Ben. "Bloodline Season 3 Netflix Review: A Meaningless Ending — Spoilers". Retrieved 2017-10-19.
  16. ^ Prudom, Laura. "'Bloodline' Ending After Season 3 on Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  17. ^ Stevenson, Jane. "Crowd eats up pop star Sia's minimalistic show". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  18. ^ Patterson, John. "Rogue One's Ben Mendelsohn: 'Star Wars is a childhood dream come true'". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Sally West: The Bird of Song with Claws of Paint". Shayan Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn. Art Aesthetics. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  20. ^ Maddox, Garry (6 October 2012). "Killing Them Softly, How Hollywood Fell For Ben Mendelsohn". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  21. ^ Hornaday, Ann (5 April 2013). "Ben Mendelsohn is everywhere. Finally". Washington Post.

Further reading[edit]

  • Romei, Stephen. (2005). "The Face: Stephen Romei meets Ben Mendelsohn (actor)". Review liftout, p. 3, The Weekend Australian, 25–26 June 2005

External links[edit]