For Ben Mendelsohn, identifying with a man in crisis is something that comes with ease. “It’s a pretty regularly occurring thing, these at-some-point-in-your-life crises,” the actor told Deadline today. “I have a three-times-a-year one—every trimester.”
Appearing alongside Nicole Holofcener and Thomas Mann, Mendelsohn is in Toronto in support of The Land of Steady Habits, the latest drama from the indie writer/director, which is launching on Netflix on September 14. The film centers on the highly damaged Anders Hill (Mendelsohn), a man who up and leaves his finance job and his wife (Edie Falco), ending up on bad terms with his troubled 27-year-old son (Mann).
Based on a novel by Ted Thompson,which came to Holofcener via agent Rich Klubeck, the story she wound up telling immediately presented itself as an interesting challenge. “I just really liked it right out of the gate—great lead, really screwed-up person needs to grow, which means there’s somewhere to start and somewhere to go,” the director said. “I loved the story about parenting, and fathers and sons, and the humor, and I’d never done anything actually that dark.”
For Mendelsohn, a self-described “fanboy” with regard to the helmer—who he called “a ninja master” when it comes to managing tone—the film was appealing in its ability to portray the profound in the everyday. Also a fan of Holofcener’s, who had seen 2013’s Enough Said and would go back to study the director’s earlier films, Mann had an interesting story about his first meeting with the filmmaker, involving a forgotten wallet and a Home Depot gift certificate. While Holofcener met with Mann during the writing of the script, the actor had no great expectations following this initial encounter. “Half the time you go on meetings like that, nothing ever comes to fruition,” he explained. “But then like a year or so later, she called me up. I was so flattered that she was thinking of me for this. It was a great part in this movie, and it was so well-written.”
To hear more from Holofcener and her cast—with discussion of the process of adapting Thompson’s novel—click above.