Ben Mendelsohn Goes ‘Full Mendo’ in This Interview

I came across an interview with you from about 25 years ago when you said you’ve written some novels under a pseudonym.

Yeah, yeah. Listen, here’s the deal about interviews. You are free to say any shit you want to say. Because none of it matters. It’s got no bearing on anything, right? It’s something you do. And if you want to lie your fucking ass off, you are perfectly free. And it doesn’t matter. It’s not important. You know what I mean? I may have, I may not have. I’m free to talk shit. In this encounter, I have no responsibility to do nothing but attempt to entertain.

Well, have you written anything since then?

It’s hard for me to talk about writing. It’s a very personal experience. My attitude to this stuff has always been, this whole business, it’s only about entertainment. And there’s no need to sweat, there’s nothing else to it. Every bit of it, it’s only for an audience.

What was your first audience?

It was school and it was awesome. I really didn’t expect it, and it was just fucking awesome. It’s the best thing on earth if you’re built for this bullshit and this dumb career choice. But listen, I never wanted to be an actor. My excuse is that I started at 14 and I kept going.

So when did you realize you’re built for this bullshit?

When I survived the enormous drought and I came back and I realize I’ve got proper fucking endurance. If you get a second bite of the cherry in your life, you understand, man. You know how fucking sweet and lucky it is.

Now that you’ve got the second chance, anyone you still want to work with?

I would be more interested in trying to work on something in a country that is not mine, like a Korean film, a Hong Kong film. Something that was significantly different and I had a very high chance of failing. And if you can ever work with Mads Mikkelsen or Peter Dinklage, you must. Because they are the two most fucking fun and easiest and best fucking people to work with. Mads, oh, man, he’s awesome. And Peter Dinklage, I never fucking laughed so much in my life. They’re the best, man.

It sounds like you’re not too precious about your work. You’re in and you’re out.

Here’s the thing: You turn up, you don’t know what you’re doing, and you try to find a way. That’s it, full stop. It’s hard not to suck. That’s the default setting. And I sucked for enormous amounts of time. I hate jerkoffs. I hate people who jerk off about all this shit. I’ve been doing this for too long and I have no tolerance for it. Oh, man, fuck off. This stuff is so 1985.

What stuff is so 1985?

Nineteen eighty-five is the height of the worship of the method actor. It’s the period where it reaches its zenith and it starts to collapse in terms of its solidity as a doctrine. [Lights a cigarette.]

For the record: I’m glad some people still smoke during interviews.

One time I was on with someone and they were in the doctor’s office and they were like, [imitating American accent] “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t smoke.” And I was like, “Dude, I’m in my fucking house, man. Calm down, you boundary freak. What are you on about?”

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