Paul Benjamin "Ben" Mendelsohn (born 3 April 1969) is an Australian actor.
Mendelsohn was born in Melbourne, Australia, the son of Carole Ann (Ferguson) and Frederick Mendelsohn. He attended Heidelberg Primary School and Banyule High School. His father is a prominent medical researcher who heads the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne. Ben and his two brothers Tom and David as well as his mother (deceased), a registered nurse, lived in Europe and the US for long periods of time, and returned to Melbourne in high school. He took drama because he thought it was an easy class, and was the only one of his friends to follow up an audition for Crawford Productions which was being advertised.
In October 2009, Mendelsohn featured in the Australian series of Who Do You Think You Are? Searching for a connection to composer Felix Mendelssohn which was eventually dismissed, he discovered links to 19th century Prussia. His ancestors were amongst the first Prussian Jews to be naturalised in Schneidemühl in the province of Posen, now Pila in modern Poland.
In 1983 while still at high school, he appeared in the role of an enslaved Inca in the Heidelberg Theatre Companys production of "The Royal Hunt of the Sun".
After several early television roles, including The Henderson Kids, he attracted notice in his breakout film, The Year My Voice Broke (1987), winning him the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor. His next major role was in The Big Steal (1990), and Spotswood (1992) co-starring with Anthony Hopkins; this was followed in 1996 by Cosi (film) and Idiot Box. In 2000 he was in two contrasting films, the Australian Mullet and the Hollywood Vertical Limit.
In 2005, he was preparing to play Mark Antony in the Sydney Theatre Company-produced Julius Caesar, and he is in the Terrence Malick-directed film The New World.
In 2007, Mendelsohn starred in the third season of the TV series Love My Way and in 2008, he appeared in Baz Luhrmann's Australia and filmed the 10-part Melbourne series Tangle, which premiered on Showcase in 2009. In 2009, he appeared in the American science fiction film Knowing directed by Alex Proyas. The same year, Mendelsohn starred as Ned in Beautiful Kate, directed by Rachel Ward, opposite Bryan Brown and Rachel Griffiths.
In 2010, he appeared in Animal Kingdom, starring in the film as Andrew 'Pope' Cody, a criminal on the run from the law living in the notorious Melbourne Underworld. This role won him many awards including IF Award's Best Actor and the AFI's award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
He was selected as one of the entrants to the Who's Who in Australia 2012 edition.