Ben Mendelsohn: Acting’s like gambling

Actor Ben Mendelsohn chooses the films to do in the same way he’d try to pick a successful racehorse.

The Australian performer has had a slow rise to the top when it comes to his Hollywood career, despite having worked solidly since he started acting in the mid ’80s. In recent years though he has established himself as a strong choice for big movies, with films like The Dark Knight Rises, Lost River and his new flick Mississippi Grind, where he co-leads with Ryan Reynolds.

“Mississippi Grind’s a good analogy for acting,” he told Britain’s Esquire of the poker flick. “When you pick a film, you want to be on a horse that’s going to run well; it doesn’t have to win, but you want a place.”

In the gambling feature Ben plays down-on-his-luck Gerry, who teams up with hotshot poker player Curtis (Ryan) to try and claw back his luck. “Look, I’ve been doing this a lot of years and I’m aware I’m in a good time,” he continued. “I feel lucky. I like to think that, in my own way, I’m just having my good Gerry period.

“You do feel like Gerry when you’re around Ryan. Being around him you’re like, ‘You’re really my buddy, right mate? You promise?’”

Gerry’s a gambling addict, so Ben took time to research what that really entailed. As part of his studies, the 46-year-old would often visit Harrah’s, New Orleans’ biggest casino. To make the experience feel real, he and Ryan used their own cash to gamble, and after playing with the big boys one night, soon found out what it felt like to lose.

“Oh, I lost a lot of money making that film,” he remembered. “I did all right until I didn’t – and then when I didn’t? I took a bath. I deserved to.”

Next up is the hotly anticipated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but Ben is staying decidedly quiet on his involvement. “I’m not doing a huge bit on it,” he teased. “That’s all I can tell you.”

– Cover Media

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