Actor Ben Mendelsohn has called legendary director Steven Spielberg, whom he worked with on the upcoming sci-fi action movie Ready Player One, a great teacher and a “really good, good bloke.” Mendelsohn can next be seen playing King Edward VIII to Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s historical drama Darkest Hour.
After toiling away for years as a character actor in his native Australia and elsewhere, Mendelsohn experienced his big American breakthrough playing Pope Cody in the Oscar-nominated drama Animal Kingdom. Mendelsohn would later land an Emmy-winning role on the Netflix series Bloodline, which would springboard him to his highest-profile job to date, playing Orson Krennic in the blockbuster Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Now established as one of Hollywood’s most-sought-after actors, Mendelsohn’s full dance-card includes the role of villainous Nolan Sorrento in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s VR-set sci-fi action/adventure Ready Player One.
Related: Ready Player One Teaser Trailer
Speaking to Screen Rant during a press junket for Darkest Hour, Ben Mendelsohn talked about the experience of working with Steven Spielberg on Ready Player One, praising the legendary director for his teaching skill and for just being a fun, exciting person to work with:
You learn a lot from, I’m mean, great directors teach you, you know? It’s like having a sort of a paid master class and you know, Mr. Spielberg teaches you how to interact with camera and character in a way that’s really, really specific. In a way that punches through. He’s a very exciting person to work for and that he’s a lot of fun. He’s a really, really, he’s a really nice guy, and he’s a really good, good bloke.
Ready Player One marks Spielberg’s first foray into science-fiction since 2005’s War of the Worlds. Set in a dystopian future, the story follows a young man named Wade Watts as he competes against a group of players in a virtual reality contest set up by a dying billionaire who wants to give away his fortune. Mendelsohn recently discussed his character Nolan Sorrento, and warned fans of Ernest Cline’s book that he had no intention of staying true to the Sorrento they originally experienced on the page. The movie reportedly will deviate from the book in a lot of important ways, as Spielberg tries to put his own unique stamp on the story, which might best be described as a dystopian cross between It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with loads of pop culture references thrown into the mix.
It sounds as though Mendelsohn had a great experience making Ready Player One, but that’s not a huge surprise when you consider who directed the film. With the notable exception of Shia LaBeouf, actors love working with Spielberg, and are quick to praise his sure directorial hand. Spielberg is currently getting Oscar buzz (again), as his new movie The Post was just named best of the year by the National Board of Review.
Though The Post looks like a sure-thing both during awards season and at the box office, Ready Player One is much more of an iffy proposition. Spielberg’s last foray into big-budget fantasy, The BFG, was a box office flop and had some folks whispering that Spielberg may have lost his touch when it comes to crafting old-school escapist cinema. One person who hasn’t lost his touch is Joe Wright, whose Darkest Hour is also garnering Oscar buzz, with Gary Oldman now looking like the odds-on favorite to win Best Actor. Mendelsohn may have a tougher job in that movie than Oldman, playing Edward VIII so soon after Colin Firth’s own take on the character in The King’s Speech was awarded with Oscar gold. Also, Mendelsohn is rumored to be playing the villain opposite Brie Larson in Captain Marvel.
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