Ben Mendelsohn on His ‘Rogue One’ Villain and Finally Getting Work in America

Actor Ben Mendelsohn

Actor Ben Mendelsohn has been working in plenty of films over the last few years, including critically acclaimed work like Slow West and blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises. However, there’s no denying that the biggest role in his career is in Rogue One, in which Mendelsohn plays Imperial officer Orson Krennic. In an interview with Vulture, Mendelsohn spoke about playing one of the Empire’s nefarious villains in the latest Star Wars film.

Mendelsohn admits that his elaborate Imperial uniformed helped him get into character. He explains, “Absolutely it does! As soon as you put it on, it gives you a dignity and an uprightness that you might not have had otherwise. It’s the sign of a great costume.”

Keeping in mind that most Star Wars villains had British accents — ranging from Peter Cushing to Christopher Lee — Mendelsohn thought it would be best to carry on that tradition. He says, “Krennic doesn’t come from officer material, so I thought maybe I could use a version of my own accent. But I also didn’t want to take people out of the Star Wars experience by having a thick Australian accent, so this is sort of me leaning towards the classic British imperial sound.”

Being in a film the size of Rogue One is quite a change for Mendelsohn, who admits he had a lot of trouble finding work in America earlier in his career. He says, “They came to me after Animal Kingdom — well, they sort of did. There was a bit of a lull until I got in a one-two punch with The Place Beyond the Pines and Killing Them Softly, and then they really came along. But I also had been coming here for about 20 years, trying to get something going on, and I could not get arrested, as they say.”

However, now that Mendelsohn is getting his work outside of his native country, he has to develop accents to portray non-Australian characters. But he welcomes the challenge, and says, “Ultimately, I’m really glad that I haven’t been able to. I believe that having to work on it more has made me better at what I do. Having to spend a lot of time making sure I’m not taking people out of Bloodline or film stuff, you need to put the work in. That has real benefits.”

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