Ben Mendelsohn Tells Us All About Playing Your New Favorite Skrull in ‘Captain Marvel’

Senior Entertainment Writer


So, here’s a Ben Mendelsohn story for you, that shows he doesn’t abide by the same rules as a lot of other people in his position. Like a lot of people, I was really blown away by his performance as Talos in Captain Marvel so, of course, I really wanted to talk to Mendelsohn about Talos. But, unfortunately, I was told Mendelsohn was busy filming a movie and wasn’t available for Disney’s scheduled press day.

So, I emailed Mendelsohn’s publicist explaining that I had just seen Captain Marvel, but I knew he was busy, but if he had any free time I’d love to talk to him. Ten minutes later my phone rings and it’s Ben Mendelsohn. Usually interviews like this go back and forth for a week, with multiple publicists involved, trying to decide on a time that works for all parties. Mendelsohn happened to be free at that very moment – well, to be precise he was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm – so why deal with the back and forth hassle? Why not just talk now? Anyway, that’s not the way this is all supposed to work, but Mendelsohn’s career path – from a heralded Australian character actor to Star Wars and Marvel star – isn’t exactly the way it’s supposed to work either, so it all kind of makes sense.

Ahead, Mendelsohn breaks down everything about our new favorite shapeshifting Skrull, Talos, for us (which includes spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Captain Marvel yet, you may want to wait) and plays pretty coy when asked if we might see Talos again anytime soon.

Ben Mendelsohn: Hello! Ben Mendelsohn calling.

What? This never happens. I just sent an email and now you’re on the phone.

Well, it’s actually much easier, do you know what I mean? Just go boom boom boom! Yes, we can do this right now. Rather than them having to slaughter all the other shit we’ve got to go through.

All trying to agree on a time a week from now…

You know what? I’ve got to go to work later today, but I’m sitting here now watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Have you seen the reactions? People love you in this movie.

I’ve been told.

Sometimes actors can get lost in what’s billed as the villain role in these type of movies. But your character has an arc and there’s a twist.

Keeping the lid on that has obviously been part of what we’ve been trying to achieve with that. So it’s been very much “bad guy bad guy“ stuff. And then, obviously, the sun will come out. But if it stays dry until the day, or day after, or whatever, that’ll be fantastic. That’ll be amazing. I think that’s part of the fun of this film. I was quite thrilled about this one. Because of Ryan (Fleck) and Anna (Boden)…

Who you worked with on Mississippi Grind, which is a great movie. I assume that makes it easier?

It made a world of difference. And I’m pretty sure that was why they came to me, because we know each other, we’ve worked together, we’ve spent months together. So they obviously felt kind of comfortable with the idea, that with Talos, we could do this.

And it’s not the normal villain, give a big speech, then fight role.

This is, I think, where I hope and trust that the sensibilities of this are strongly female, in a lot of regards. And I think Anna and Ryan’s sensibilities, I just thought it was a very beautiful, kind of very cool storytelling when I read it. So, I just kind of felt like it had a real beauty in that, you know? And it’s props to Brie and Sam, because damn they’re good. And damn they’re good together. This is people that have worked together before, this is people that know each other and are comfortable with each other, you know? Brie and Sam have worked together I think a couple of times. I know they did Skull Island. I think they did something else?

Brie directed a movie called Unicorn Store that he’s in, too.

Okay. So they know each other really well. Ryan, Anna, and I know each other really well. Once you know people, once you’ve been through it, once you kind of know each other, you can sort of bloom a bit more.

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