The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: It's Not Easy Being Mean - Exclusive Interview with Ben Mendelsohn! #rogueoneevent
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It's Not Easy Being Mean - Exclusive Interview with Ben Mendelsohn! #rogueoneevent

Disclosure: I attended the #Rogueoneevent and my expenses: flight, accommodations, transportation and some meals were be covered by Disney. All opinions, however, are always 100% mine.

Ben Mendelsohn is one of those actors who you watch and think he is a great actor. But he is not super famous although he should be. After Rogue One, I think he will become a household name. He has been acting for a long time. I starting loving Ben after I saw him in Bloodlines. He is so brilliant in that series. His character is not the most likeable but his acting is so wonderful that you cannot help but feel something.

Playing a villain in Rogue One suits him because to be a good villain, you need to have acting chops. From the little bit of Rogue One we previewed, Ben proves that he is going to be a really really good bad guy. His interview was really interesting and we learned a lot about Ben and his character, Orson Krennic.

Q: All right, can you tell us a little bit about your character?

Ben: I play director, Orson Krennic. He is the director of military intelligence and operations. And for the purposes of our film it means he’s the dude that built the Death Star and is bringing it to its final brilliance.

Q: Your characters have been trademarked collectively. And this is a quote. This isn’t my quote. As unlikable sociopaths.

Ben: That’s my recent body of work. You might call it my unlikable sociopath phase.

Q: Do you kind of prefer those evil roles to the good roles?

Ben: No. Well, I do think there’s a certain palette of emotions that you get to work with more if you’re playing the bad guys like the angry, resentful, enraged sort of stuff. I consider it a real honor to be playing a bad guy in this film and there’ll be one or two more.

But look, I’ve had a long and varied career so I don’t associate myself with my characters but it’s fine that everyone else does.

Q: So you’re not an unlikable sociopath?

Ben: I wouldn’t say that.

Q: So last night when we were watching some of the clips it was really interesting. [In that clip] when you were looking for the child you said, find it. I thought, I hate him already. Who did you study to prepare for that? Because that was such a you character and when you said that it was perfect.

Ben: When we were going into this, the main thing that I looked at was just the officers in the original film. And then you have to do a bit of a rewind and think about what it was like when they were making it in 1977 because they were all very British. And you know it’s all very sort of you know Royal Shakespeare bad guy kind of very straight kind of stuff. So I wanted Krennic to sound like enough of one of those guys.

But then after that the costume. I mean you put that costume on and you’ve got those boots on and you have that cape. And all of a sudden you just feel that power. And basically the thing about those guys like the [scene] you saw last night is that from his perspective they’re just in the way. They’re just in the way. And I mean, I’m sorry but she came out with a gun ready to shoot me.

Like what are they thinking? That was a very, very good set up I thought. I thought that set up told us a lot about what we were doing in this film.

Q: As a father, how do you get into that mind frame? Was it something that was easy?

Ben: Yeah because at the end of all of this I never ever confuse the two. There have been plenty of things I’ve done where you feel like uncomfortable or you feel a whole bunch of things because you know they are but they tend to be a lot more of the up close and personal things. But I never confuse the two. It’s sort of like, we’re going to play, here’s playtime.

We’re going to play cops and robbers. And then we’re back to normal. You’ve got to be able to do that. But I think the thing that people find the hardest is how do you take on these things knowing that people are going to look at you and go, I hate that guy? I think when you’ve been acting for a little while you hope that people feel you in whatever way that is.

As long as they feel you, you know. So when you say, find it. And I have to say, when the first time I heard that when I saw it, I remember going, oh that’s so wrong. Find it. And I hated him at that moment too. That is and that’s a really clever set up I think. I don’t know if they had written it as find it either.

Q: What was the most difficult part for you?

Ben: I think it was the first few days of being, being there and walking in front of storm troopers into those Imperial sets. It took a while to sort of just be able to you’ve got this. That was that was difficult.

Q: What would be your best scene, the one that you like the most, you were in it or somebody was?

Ben: That scene you saw with [Mads Mickkelson] that’s amongst my favorite. That was an incredibly brutally difficult day. We were in Iceland. It was absolutely prohibitively freezing. And the weather changed greatly. There’s [also] a scene with Darth Vader that it is pretty special.
And there’s also another scene which you guys haven’t seen I think that it’s in the Imperial territories that was wonderful to do as well.

Q: Who do you think is more dangerous, your character or Darth Vader?

Ben: I don’t think there’s any competition in a one-on-one. But I think the Empire being what it is Darth’s pretty good but I’d hate to see him go up against you know a couple of squadrons. I’d hate to see him go one-on-one against the Death Star. So really that’s about influences where you sit. You know Emperor’s here and how close can you get. And I think Krennic is going for that number. I think he regards Darth as you know the emperor’s kind of pet and you know he’s all fascinated with him and stuff like that. He’s a very impressive dude but there’s a bit of like this going on there as well you know whatever.

He’s like a very important figurehead. But in terms of the strategies and what we actually have to get done you know whatever. He’s a great car, you know? But someone’s got to drive it.

Q: You grew up being a Star Wars fan. Did you ever imagine yourself being on the empire side?

Ben: No. I mean but that’s the folly of youth isn’t it? No one imagines that they’re going to end up on the side of the empire. But you get older, you come to realize the peace and stability in the galaxy is worth fighting for and that all these fairy ideals of the rebellion are very well and good but what happens when they get into power?

No, I didn’t but I wish I could have turned but I wish I could have told myself at various points through life, don’t worry. One day you’ll be in Star Wars. That would have been good turn but there you go.

Q: Gareth [Edwards, the director] was telling us the story about being in LA on the rooftop whenever he came to you with this role. Can you tell us your side of the story?

Ben: I got summoned to go and meet. He basically told me the story and then he told me who he wanted me to play. I was just a little concerned. I thought like are you sure? And but I was incredibly.

I started to get a little bit overwhelmed by it. I was pretty sure by the end of it that he had offered it to me. But then I had to keep it quiet for a very, very long time.

I have to say that this was one of my favorite interviews. I am such a huge Ben Mendelsohn fan and am thrilled that he is in Rogue One. I am sure he will NOT disappoint!

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ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!

Interview photos by Louise Manning Bishop -

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