ben the australian

i keep seeing gifs of ben in ‘idiot box’ with that shirt that says ‘get a dog up ya’ and i was so confused, like why the fuck does his shirt say that, so i googled it, and to no surprise, of course its australian slang. i should have known. australian english is wild.

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Here’s baby Willow! She is my 7 week old Australian shepherd and Bentley’s baby sister. I will be [hopefully] training her to be my PSD, as well as involving her in some dog sport and other adventures that come our way.

Allow me to tell you the tale of the time when the Prime Minister of Australia gave Buckingham Palace a collective heart attack by snubbing a dinner invite from the king.

It’s the late 1940s, and Prime Minister Ben Chifley is in London for a Commonwealth prime ministers’ conference when he receives an invitation to dine with the King. When he declines, the official secretary is stunned into speechlessness. You don’t say ‘no’ to dinner with the King of England; it’s just not done! He says something vague about a prior engagement, which just dumbfounds them. What kind of prior engagement could possibly be more important than a formal banquet with your country’s head of state?!

So Chif’s refusal isn’t simply insulting, it’s utterly flabbergasting to all involved.

Now, you might be thinking at this point that the Prime Minister was making some kind of statement with this snub. Maybe this is his way of dropping a pointed reminder that Australia is an independent nation, subservient to no one, and Britain can’t just expect the former colonies to follow along blindly whenever the King says ‘heel’.

The truth, though? The truth is that Chifley hadn’t packed a dinner suit. This ABSOLUTE DORK opted to insult the King by declining an invite because he DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT CLOTHES TO WEAR.

Lord Gowrie, a former Governor-General of Australia who’d gotten to know Chifley during his tenure, pops over for a visit. He’s quite concerned. Ben, he says, you realise the whole palace is in a tailspin over this dinner thing, right? Chif explains the dinner suit situation, and Gowrie’s like, well, if that’s all it is, I’ll hire a suit for you myself.

“No you won’t,” says Chif stubbornly. “I’ve never sat in somebody else’s clothes in my life. I wouldn’t go anywhere in a hired suit. No, no, tell them I’m busy.”

A rather exasperated Gowrie goes off and relays all this to the palace. A little later, he phones to tell Chifley that the King has been apprised of the, er, problem, and has decided to wear a lounge suit. Diplomatic crisis averted!

Still, it was quite an upset. The King had never before attended a formal banquet in anything other than a dinner suit. And because the palace forgot to relay the change in dress code to the other attendees, everyone else showed up dressed to the nines. The only ones wearing lounge suits were the King and Ben Chifley.

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“I’ll tell you the actor that impresses me the most…is Ben Mendelsohn. I’ve worked with him five times and I feel like that’s a real privilege. My first ever job where I got paid to act was playing his brother on a TV show called ‘Police Rescue.’ Ben was a featured guy on this episode and I was his younger brother. And we did ‘Animal Kingdom,’ we did an animation thing called ‘$9.99.’ We did ‘Exodus.’ And we did a movie I won’t name (Laughs) in Australia. It was reviewed in a magazine with a picture of me with a gun to my head, which is a shot from the movie, and the quote underneath was, ‘Don’t blame me, I didn’t direct it.’ (Laughs)

"I love working with actors who seem to be on another level. Ben’s one of those guys. He’s incredibly dangerous…Ben is amazing.”

[BTW - the film Joel wouldn’t name was the 2000 movie, 'Sample People.’ The lower photo shows Joel and Ben in a scene from the film.]

Ben Mendelsohn. You sir, do Australian Star Wars fans proud. Loved your work from The Year My Voice Broke, through to Metal Skin and Sample People. You’re now no.2 in my favourite Imperial Officer list… (sorry, Grand Moff Tarkin will always be #1!)

Love the affable nature and laid back ‘it’s-like-I’m-just-down-the-pub’ Aussie approach to the promotional interviews as well. :)