Ben Mendelsohn as a skrull in captain marvel

Marvel is notoriously secretive about their projects and the cast and crew are very tight-lipped about a film in production. Before visiting a Marvel set, the SHIELD-style Marvel security make you sign an NDA and take a photo on an iPad. Despite NDAs and embargoes, no one can be trusted and the stars of these films are often unsure of what they can and not say in on set interviews. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but other times it can be hilarious.

While visiting the set of Captain Marvel, we had an opportunity to talk with Ben Mendelsohn, who was in full Skrull make-up and wardrobe. Mendelsohn plays the Skrull battle commander Talos in the film, but aside from our knowledge of the Skrulls from the comics, we really don’t know the villainous motivations a the center of this film or why Earth finds itself in the middle of the Skrull/Kree war. And Mendelsohn is a pro at weaving and dodging this potential minefield and while there isn’t a lot of hard information to come out of this discussion, it’s worth reading because of Ben’s hilarious answers.

(If you want to actually hear him say “we be Skrulling,” listen to the interview on this afternoon’s edition of /Film Daily.)

Note: this interview was conducted in a roundtable format with a number of other journalists.

Ben Mendelsohn as a skrull in captain marvel

Question: What’s this process? How long does this take?

Ben Mendelsohn: It takes a couple of hours. It’s not too exorbitant.

Question: What’s your character’s name? What’s their role in the movie?

Mendelsohn: I’m Talos. I’m the battle commander of the Skrulls. I take it most of you know who Skrulls are? We kind of rule the shit. Most of the rest of the Marvel comic universe are punks basically. And I guess to quote Snoop Dogg, we are the shiznit. We stand above. I mean, look, we can be anyone, and we’re stronger than the rest of them. Basically, that’s it. Yeah, we’re maligned, we’re misunderstood. But, you know, we’re Skrulls. We’re Skrullin. Any other questions?

Question: What are the Skrulls out for?

Mendelsohn: What are they out for? What is their raison d’etre? Oh, you know, like most people, they just want a place to call their own, and just be able to chill. But these other types getting in the way all the time, messing with us…

Question: Were there any specific comic runs you read to sort of understand more about the Skrulls?

Mendelsohn: Without wanting to get to meta with the whole sort of marvel publicity thing, they do have a really good app, so you can hop on to any of them. I started at the start because I wanted to see us when we were scummy little amphibious tadpoles scum, and see how we rose and became reimagined until this point where I could stand at the zenith of Skrull creation. We have a peek at this, and we have a peek at that, but I can’t tell you that without showing you my petticoat, and I don’t want to show you the petticoat I’m still shy.

Question: Has your character been deeply embedded in disguise for quite a while? Or…?

Mendelsohn: He’s quite active, so he has to switch in and out of some various stuff. So, you know, I’m going to assume we’re going to see Talos do his thing. And look, the thing about Skrulls and changing shapes, and I can say this with some authority. Physiologically any Skrull can change shape. It takes practice, and, dare I say it, talent to do it well. He’s a battle commander because he does it well.

Ben Mendelsohn as a skrull in captain marvel

Have you seen the visuals of the actual transition? Do you know exactly the process?

Mendelsohn: No. I’ve participated in the transition, but I haven’t seen what they’ll end up doing with it. I think it will be pretty funky, but no, I’m not privy to that. I just have to stand on the…

How does your character change when you go from human form to full Skrull?

Mendelsohn: Well, I think picking up on that point, I don’t quite know yet how that will manifest.

Question: I mean like personality-wise, how does he act?

Mendelsohn: See, the thing about him is, we know basically who you are for the last x amount of time, right? So you want to think it’s a pretty good carbon copy of what’s going on with ‘Haha human, I got you’ behind this. You might think of it like a chameleon, trapdoor spider, or just one of those spiders that just hangs there looking useless, but it doesn’t look like spider, you know what I mean? But it knows you’re coming; you’re coming closer. I’m very gentle, and very meek. That kind of vibe.

Question: Does he have a specific relationship with Carol?

Mendelsohn: Well, they’re in the same movie.

Question: How do you feel about Thanos stealing your chin?

Mendelsohn: Look, I was very upset with that. Basically I consider Thanos to be a punk. I mean clearly he’s looked at us Skrulls, and he’s been like, ‘You know what, I want to look more like that.’ Like that whole chin thing? Yeah, totally bit my style with the chin. He’s going for the blue hues and all that. I mean, clearly he’s Skrulling. there’s no other word for it. I think I’d better go while it’s good, before I starting hitting duds out here.

Question: Can you talk about the war with the Kree?

Mendelsohn: Well, they’re punks. I don’t know what to say. The Kree are filth, and that’s just all there is to it. I don’t want to say. Kree. Please. There’s going to be some problems. What can I say? They’re Kree.

Question: Do you foresee an end to the Kree/Skrull war, because it has been going on for such a long time. Can you foresee an end?

Mendelsohn: I mean, if they step off then that’s good, then it’s done. But they don’t seem to want to step off. And so we be Skrulling.

Question: Please tell me you say that in the movie.

Mendelsohn: I can tell you that, we be trying.

Ben Mendelsohn behind the scenes of captain marvel

Question: You had the opportunity to work with Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck previously on Mississippi Grind. I imagine this has been a completely different experience. Is there any DNA shared?

Mendelsohn: Well, not so much between the projects, but I think with us there is a continuing kind of a DNA. There’s a relationship that we formed on that film, which kind of carries on in the nucleus in a lot the same way, although, what we’re trying to do here is quite a bit different. A lot more Skrulling than gambling. But there is a… we’ve got our thing going on.

Question: Is it nice just having that experience given everything physically going on?

Mendelsohn: Yes. I would have worked with Anna and Ryan on any number of propositions, but Skrulling? It’s also very, very different. What we’re trying to do is very different, and it feels good out there. It feels good out there.

Question: What can you say about how your character crosses paths with Carol?

Mendelsohn: Not a lot.

Question: Why does he set his sights on her?

Mendelsohn: I can’t tell you a lot without giving the game away. But it’s fair to say that Carol’s pretty good. Let me put it another way: Captain Marvel is pretty good. You know, Carol, it’s sort of like the Life of Pablo. The Life of Carol. Like which one? Which one is she gonna be? Is she going to be Carol Danvers, or is she got to be Captain Marvel? Now she’s Carol Danvers, then yeah. She got some stuff that that can be… I mean, you know, we’re good at getting inside of people. That’s my big clue.

What’s your level of action like? Like Physical action.

Mendelsohn: Oh it’s intense. You know, a lot of lot of punching, a lot of kicking, lots of Skrullin.

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