Darkest Hour Is A 'Bookend' To Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk

Ben Mendelsohn has been making a name for himself in recent years in the science fiction genre, having been in films like The Dark Knight Rises, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and most famously in last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. However, his acting career spans past the sci-fi genre. He’s taken on dramas like Mississippi Grind and The Place Beyond the Pines. He’s also taken on historical genre films like Australia. Now Ben Mendelsohn will take on the role of King George VI in the upcoming World War II biopic, Darkest Hour.

Screen Rant got a chance to chat with Ben Mendelsohn on press day, where we discussed how much research Mendelsohn on King George VI to prepare him for the role, how this movie helps to explain the state of contemporary world politics, and what it was like to work with Steven Spielberg on Ready Player One.

SR: First of all, this movie might be a little bit of a palate cleanser for you seeing as you've done so many sci-fi movies in the past. Is there anything new you learned in your research about Churchill and King George?

Ben Mendelsohn: Yeah! I think, look, I think the thing that really came through from my being involved in this, is actually the degree to which Clementine, Churchill's wife, and he had the partnership that they had. In terms of George I, you know, I didn't know a lot about George. I knew a bit. And you learn what you can along the way. But, you know, you got to by the script.

SR: Right. You know, when you and Gary (Oldman) you got lost in those roles. I almost didn't recognize you two. It was an amazing performance. We're starting to see a lot of biopics pop up of twentieth century leaders.

Ben Mendelsohn: Yeah.

SR: What do you think that says to the state of like world politics?

Ben Mendelsohn: Look, I'm not sure that, you know, I think these difficulties participating in making these things and then making calls about contemporary politics or stuff like that. I do think that we, you know, we look to, you know, historical figures for a sense of what we could, should, you know, might achieve. And the great thing about The Darkest Hour is, you know, Churchill is really a titan. An absolute titan in, you know, contemporary world history. Recent world history, pardon me. And to bring it down and to be able to look in such an intimate way over, you know, a few weeks and then think about what he went through and where he arrived at, that's what's so beautifully instruct, you know, that's a that's a great lesson. But it's first and foremost, it's just it's in great, it's an entertaining movie.

SR: Very entertaining. Yeah, I would more so than you would think about Winston Churchill. You know, one thing that I notice is like Dunkirk was a huge success earlier this summer.

Ben Mendelsohn: Yeah.

SR: What are you hoping that this movie, Darkest Hour, brings across with audiences now?

Ben Mendelsohn: Oh, well, I mean, it's sort of a great term, kind of... it's, it's a bookend if you like. I mean, it's the other side of the coin to, you know, Chris Nolan's film. But, look, I just how people are entertained and I know they will be. I mean, that's always the only goal, I think, with doing these things is here you go. You know, I mean, we're not making a documentary it's not, it's not dry. It's funny. It's, it's compelling, and it's inspiring movie.

SR: You know, I do got to ask, we're from Screen Rant, I get ask you these questions. You play the big bad in Rogue One. You're going to play the villain Captain Marvel, which we're guessing is Yong- Rogg...

Ben Mendelsohn: Whoa.

SR: Possibly? A little Captain Marvel? Well what distinguishes the two villains apart?

Ben Mendelsohn: No idea.

SR: No idea?

Ben Mendelsohn: No.

SR: Have you not heard about this Captain Marvel thing?

Ben Mendelsohn: No, no. I've heard about it. I've heard about it plenty, but I've no idea.

SR: OK. OK. With the villain in Rogue One...

Ben Mendelsohn: Yeah.

SR: Are you expecting more physicality and with the Marvel Studios...

Ben Mendelsohn: I have no idea.

SR: Really?

Ben Mendelsohn: Yeah.

SR: Nothing yet?

Ben Mendelsohn:  No. I have no idea. (Laughs)

SR: OK. Well, switching gears. Back to sci-fi. Ready Player One.

Ben Mendelsohn: Yes! That one I have an idea of.

SR: I'm really excited. I'm a huge fan of the book, by the way. I love Ready Player One. What was your experience working with Steven Spielberg and anything you learned working with him on that set?

Ben Mendelsohn: Oh! Oh yeah! I mean, you know, you... look, 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 takes 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.

Stay Tuned to Screen Rant for more Darkest Hour coverage!

Key Release Dates
  • Darkest Hour (2017) release date: Nov 22, 2017
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