Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn is shaping up for a lead role in the new Star Wars film

Ben Mendelsohn in Slow West. Picture: DMC Film

The Rebel Alliance could soon be led by former Neighbours star Ben Mendelsohn, but don’t get your hopes up, Light Siders – he’s more likely to be wearing Imperial green-grey.

Mendelsohn has been quietly sneaking up on Hollywood and into the critics’ good books in the past couple of years while higher profile former Aussie soap stars pass the spotlight around.

The poster boy of Oz flicks in the 90s played a slew of single name roles such as Dazey, Kev, Gazza and Mullet. He didn’t come to Hollywood’s attention until he was 40, with a menacing turn as Pope Cody in the 2010 hit Animal Kingdom.

Since then, he’s had acclaimed support roles in The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly, The Place Beyond the Pines and Exodus: God and Kings.

There’s plenty of murmuring about his role as a bounty hunter in the western Slow West, due out in May, and even more about his Emmy chances for his role in the Netflix series, Bloodline.

Bounty hunters are also a fair chance to star in the first Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, due in cinemas at the end of next year. Mendelsohn has today been linked with a lead role.

Most reports are running with a plot centred around the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans to the Death Star, but no one has pinned down whether it’s the first version or the second version of the Death Star.

Technically, the plans for Death Star V2.0 weren’t stolen, but the storyline around the Emperor deliberately leaking them to the Rebel Alliance makes for a juicier plot. Also, Rogue Squadron wasn’t officially formed until after the events of A New Hope, but the Lucasfilm deal with Disney allows for parts of the old Star Wars canon to be rewritten.

So “Rogue One” could refer to the call sign for either Wedge Antilles or Luke Skywalker, who assumed the role during the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

Wedge Antilles – better than Skywalker. Picture Lucasfilm.

But since Wedge had just grown out of shooting womp rats with a young Skywalker at the time, he’s likely to be played by a younger actor than Mendelsohn.

It would be fantastic to see Mendelsohn in the kind of role where he does all his best work – on the Dark Side. He probably wouldn’t be too upset at being seen as old enough if it means he gets to be the Emperor, but there’s no shame in filling the boots of Admiral Piett either (if Rogue One is set between Star Wars Episodes V and VI).

Until then, check Mendelsohn out wearing some amazing furs in Slow West, which also stars another rising Aussie star, Kodi Smit-McPhee, who recently won the coveted role of Nightcrawler in the new X-Men film:

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