Ben Mendelsohn Finds A "Fantastic Character" To Play In HBO's Adaptation Of Stephen King's "The Outsider"


By Jeff Pfeiffer

TV and movie productions based on Stephen King works now seem to be released even more frequently than the prolific author’s books are being published. One of King’s more recent novels, The Outsider, dropped in May 2018. That December, HBO greenlit a 10-episode series based on the book, and now, just over a year later, the series debuts on the premium network Jan. 12.

The Outsider stars and is produced by Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline, Ready Player One). The actor gives a wonderfully understated performance as police detective Ralph Anderson, a quietly stoic man who, with his wife, is still grieving the recent death of their own son when Ralph is tasked with investigating the horrific murder and mutilation of a boy.

Strong evidence clearly points to the act having been committed by beloved community member Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman, who also executive produced the series and directed its first two episodes). Yet, at the same time, other seemingly incontrovertible evidence shows otherwise. It’s impossible for someone to be in two places at once — unless, of course, you’re in a Stephen King story, where the answer may lie in something monstrous and beyond human comprehension.

That’s the sort of uncanny world Anderson finds himself having to reluctantly begin to accept, and it won’t be easy for him, as Mendelsohn explained.

“I’ve always found Mr. King’s work most unsettling when, as it were, the world is tilted in some way,” the actor said. “[But] Ralph’s very much about facts, and black and white. The story is about Ralph’s journey as a guy who is very much a straight up-and-down, Gary-Cooper-in-High-Noon-type. Gary Cooper does exactly the right thing, and is very scared, and for good reason.
“Ralph, like most people — especially people that, I think, deal in evidence — aren’t going to be brought to a different position until [everything else is] really exhausted.”

We asked Mendelsohn if he’d be open to revisiting Ralph Anderson if King eventually featured the detective in another story.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he offered. “I think Ralph’s a fantastic character. There’s a certain guy that you [Americans] write that you do better than anyone on Earth. … They are beautiful characters, and if they’re done right, they’re great guideposts. You do morally muscular leading men [like Ralph] better than anyone. So, to be given one of those, amidst the ‘villainy’ narrative and whatnot that I think characterizes [my roles] the last many years was a gift that I was not going to @#$%ing walk away from.”