Franchise blockbusters can often be vehicles for long-underrated character actors to reach a wider audience. After the release of the highly anticipated trailer for "Star Wars: Rogue One," Ben Mendelsohn might be about to claim a bigger share of the spotlight.
Mendelsohn stands out in the new trailer as a white-caped Imperial officer, appearing in two shots: alone in a space station, brooding, and then marching through a pool of water in the middle of what looks to be a battlefield. Rumors that Mendelsohn was joining the cast of the standalone "Star Wars" film popped up in early 2015 and were later confirmed by Disney.
The only information that has been made public about Mendelsohn's character is that he is a villain, but fans of the "Star Wars" expanded universe will recognize the character's uniform from comics and other images from the franchise's expanded universe as that of a Grand Admiral. Fans immediately took to Twitter with theories about Mendelsohn's character's identity after catching the sneak peek. Some believe that Mendelsohn might be taking over the role of Grand Moff Tarkin, the second-in-command to Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) on the "Death Star" in the original "Stars Wars" movie — Tarkin was played by Peter Cushing. Others pointed out similarities between Mendelsohn's wardrobe and the uniform worn by Grand Admiral Thrawn, an Imperial officer in a series of novels based off of the films.
— Trasko Ren (@TotallyTrasko) April 7, 2016
However, many fans might be more curious about Mendelsohn himself — the actor's name started trending on Twitter when the trailer was released. Known for playing dark, outcast characters, Mendelsohn first rose to prominence in the U.S. after his role in the Oscar-nominated "Animal Kingdom" (2010) after a long career in his native Australia that began when he was a teenager. Since then, he has had a series of acclaimed supporting roles in American film and TV, including the role of Jessa's (Jemima Kirke) father, Sal, in HBO's "Girls," businessman John Daggett in 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises," drug addict Russell in 2012's "Killing Them Softly" and the bank robber-mechanic Robin in 2013's "The Place Beyond the Pines," alongside Ryan Gosling. In 2015, Mendelsohn starred in the Netflix series "Bloodline," for which he was nominated for an Emmy, and the indie drama "Mississippi Grind" with Ryan Reynolds.
Mendelsohn is currently in early talks to play the villain in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” according to Variety. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" will premiere in theaters on Dec. 16, 2016.