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Mendelsohn goes green in Captain Marvel

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Ben Mendelsohn is sitting on a golf cart and smoking a cigarette surrounded by massive Hollywood studio sound stages.

The 49-year-old Australian actor is unrecognisable.

His skin is green, his face has deep grooves and his ears are big and pointy. His body is covered in a cloak.

It's only when Mendelsohn opens his mouth his broad, easily recognisable Australian accent reveals his identity.

"Time to get back to work," Mendelsohn says as he concludes his smoko and makes his way back into Studio 30 on the expansive Sony film studio lot.

It's day 63 of the 75-day Captain Marvel film shoot in Los Angeles and Marvel Studios has invited AAP to visit the set.

The film, set in the 1990s, stars Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, a US fighter pilot turned superhero, and Samuel L Jackson as an early incarnation of his Avengers' character, Nick Fury.

It is Marvel's first female-led superhero film.

Mendelsohn plays Talos, a shape-shifting leader of the Skrull alien race.

On this June, 2018 day the stars and crew are filming a crucial scene involving the mysterious Tesseract stone.

It takes place on a Kree space ship.

The room inside the ship is curiously filled with 1980s and 90s devices including an Atari Centipede video game, a Space Invaders pinball machine, a jukebox playing Little Richard's Tutti Frutti and a Happy Days lunchbox.

"Hey!" Jackson, acting out the scene, yells at Larson as she playfully juggles the Tesseract.

"I don't think you should be doing that."

"Well, give me something to carry it in," Larson, dressed in her Captain Marvel uniform, shouts back.

Making huge budget Marvel superhero films is a slow, tedious process but throughout the day Mendelsohn and his cast-mates remain in high spirits and crack jokes in between scenes.

When Mendelsohn eventually walks over for a chat he remains in full costume - green skin and prosthetics over his face.

I joke that, with his bald head and big pointy ears, he looks like a green version of another famous Australian.

"Are you related to Peter Garrett?" I ask him.

"Yeah I am," Mendelsohn responds.

"My Beds are Burning."

I laugh, but non-Australians in the vicinity don't understand what we are talking about.

"A bit of an Australian joke there," Mendelsohn deadpans to the confused bystanders.

"Never mind."

Mendelsohn is riding high in Hollywood these days, but it did not come easy.

His Australian acting breakthrough was 1987's The Year My Voice Broke and he was a mainstay Australian TV and film, but Hollywood was not so keen on casting him.

It was not until 2012 he found a Hollywood foothold with roles in The Dark Knight Rises and The Place Beyond the Pines, a drama opposite Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes.

The 2015 debut of the Netflix series Bloodline, set in the Florida Keys, with Mendelsohn playing the troubled black sheep of the Rayburn family, won him an Emmy and cemented him as Hollywood's new favourite bad guy.

Roles in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One and Robin Hood followed.

Mendelsohn also starred in Mississippi Grind, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

When Boden and Fleck were hired to write and direct Captain Marvel they suggested Mendelsohn play Talos.

"They were totally right," Captain Marvel's executive producer, Jonathan Schwartz, said.

"One of the things we loved about the role was the Skrull are shape-shifters so you get to see Ben in his green Skrull make-up and then also in human form.

"He's playing two very different roles and it needed a great actor to pull it off."

Mendelsohn jokingly bristles when asked if Talos has any redeeming qualities, arguing Skrulls are the superior species in the film.

"My character is awesome," he says.

"It ain't easy being green baby."

Captain Marvel opens in Australia on Thursday (March 7).

© AAP 2019

Image credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]