Love My Way: articles

Ben Mendelsohn

Ben's in Love

THERE'S no mistaking Ben Mendelsohn's aversion to self-promotion.

He might rank as one of Australia's most talented actors, but Mendelsohn would rather chew silver paper than tell you what makes him tick on or off screen.

It could be argued this determination to do things his way, a refusal to bow to the promotional requests of producers, agents and the media, has led to him missing out on a level of success enjoyed by some of his less talented contemporaries.

The actor, however, has no sense of regret.

The showbiz landscape is littered with Australian actors who have toughed it out in Hollywood for years without a career break, but Mendelsohn says he has achieved fulfilment largely by staying home.

"I've never been interested in being in America just for the sake of it, though I've been there for a look on the odd occasion," he says.

Mendelsohn), whose overseas credits include Vertical Limit and the Terrence Malik-directed The New World (co-starring Colin Farrell), says he is attracted to quality scripts regardless of the filming location.

The man who once worked in an abattoir for a living says his greatest achievement has not been a pitch-perfect performance in a TV drama or film, but enduring as a "jobbing actor".

"To be an actor making a living in this country - that is the achievement," he says in his laid-back drawl.

"If you are lucky enough to do this job and get paid for it, that is such a fortunate position to be in.

"I'm just rapt to have been able to manage that over 20-odd years. Seriously, I am happy to be plodding along exactly as I am."

Parkville-born Mendelsohn's rare depth and versatility have never been on greater display than in the Foxtel drama Love My Way, the third season of which premieres on the Showtime channel on Monday.

He revels in the role of former drug addict Lewis Feingold, who in new episodes is five months into his relationship, and marriage, with Claudia Karvan's character, Frankie Paige.

Though creative fatigue can set in suddenly in TV drama, the beginning of series three suggests Love My Way will remain arguably Australia's finest TV drama yet.

Mendelsohn says the series, the brainchild of Karvan and highly regarded producer John Edwards, is unlike anything else he has worked on. Constantly, he says, he finds himself plumbing the depths of his imagination, using every skill in his acting repertoire, to do justice to scripts that take Lewis places the actor hadn't expected.

Superlatives roll off his tongue when he speaks of Karvan. The pair worked together in the late 1980s on the comedy The Big Steal and Mendelsohn says they benefit from having "a kind of acting shorthand that we both understand".

"She is incredible. The workplace in general is very secure. Nobody wants to work with people they don't have an affinity with.

"I've done series TV before where a rot has set in. It is very painful and boring for all involved when that happens.

"I know it's easy for me to say this because I'm not a writer on this show. But I can't see any reason why this all should end with series three. I reckon it has the legs to go on."

Love My Way, M
Showtime, Monday 8.30pm

By Darren Devlyn
February 21, 2007