Having worked on many acclaimed films such as Predestination, alongside Ethan Hawke, Post Apocalyptic Man, and Punch Drunk, Prendergast’s audiences around the world were able to see the dedication he possesses for every role he portrays. This was no different when he took on the leading role of Martin Tully in The Marker.
The Marker follows the journey of new employee Martin Tully, played by Prendergast, who finds himself caught up in a cartel. Martin begins his corporate journey with the best of intentions, but after he is corrupted by a workmate, he needs to decide if he will turn informant or risk his marriage and career by maintaining the secrecy and playing the game. For Prendergast, The Marker was an opportunity to work on a political thriller set within a crooked corporation and a corrupt industry. He felt that the story touched on what was actually happening in Australia and wanted to be a part of the solution.
“The film was part funded by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission so there was a real feeling that we were producing something that would help thousands of Australian families. The supermarkets are a particular target and Australia has some of the most expensive groceries in the world, creating a real problem for the lower socio-economic demographic,” said Prendergast.
The Marker premiered in Melbourne in 2013 and garnered a lot of attention. It was distributed to a number of independent Australian theatres, and also across corporate channels. It was featured on national networks for its political messaging, and then went on to win several awards. It was critiqued on National Radio and most National Newspapers as a benchmark for excellence in the industry and the winner of the 2013 Melbourne Design Awards in Digital Communication. Such success could never have been possible without Prendergast in the leading role.
“Ben is a true professional in every sense of the word, which we needed as the cast and crew were working pretty hard and Ben spent most of his days in front of the camera dealing with some pretty heavy text. He brought it to life, gave it a human edge and managed to make our audiences fall in love with a character and a story that in the wrong hands could have been drab. We'd watch the dailies and marvel at the complexity and nuance that he brings to every moment. It was such a pleasure to work with him and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. He has that rare combination of raw instinct and passionate determination, with an underlying understanding of what the story needs,” said Jono Gilbert, Director.
It was Gilbert that initially approached Prendergast to take part in The Marker. At the time, the actor’s reputation was dramatically rising to what it now is today, and he was recognized as someone who could carry a film. Having seen his work in the television series Dr. Blake, Gilbert knew he was the ideal actor to carry the film.
“I loved working with Jono. He is such a fantastic director and he just allowed me to find each moment with a gentle probity that was really enjoyable. The cast were all brilliant too, often workshopping ideas that best helped me find those parts of Martin that needed to be fleshed out for the audience,” Prendergast described.
When filming, Prendergast completely divulged into the role of Martin Tully. He analyzed the character’s motives, allowing him to completely become the protagonist audiences see on screen. Martin is a hopeful, ambitious, young executive, providing for a new family and finally has his shot at financial freedom. He has a competitive streak, and a capability and confidence that has seen him climb the corporate ladder faster than his peers. The smartest guy in the room, he is hungry, but has a conscience, which ends up becoming vital for the story when he realizes there is something not quite right with the new company he has joined.
“The challenge in this role was dialing in the right amount of naivety, then concern, and finally vigilance to suit the storyline. It was important in this role to really map out and play that, out of sequence in some cases. Every shot follows Martin, so in effect the story plays out from his perspective at every turn. That’s a blessing in that it really does become your baby, but then it requires an enormous amount of focus over the weeks and months of production,” said Prendergast.
Prendergast’s portrayal of Martin in The Marker is both charming and enthralling, something he aims for with every role he takes on. Having risen to the top of Australia’s acting industry, in film, television, and theatre, he has become an expert in his field. He always encourages everyone with a passion for acting to pursue their dreams, because with hard work, they could become reality.
“I don’t think there’s any substitute for training as an actor. You have to read, to play, to do every little bit of film and television and theatre you can find. You have to watch your peers and your elders and learn. You have to listen to your audience, either in a screening or in a theatre, they’ll tell you when they’re engaged or bored. Then, you have to be a student of the crafts around yours, from directing, to production, to story, so that you know where you fit and how you can bring the best result on any project you’re in. Be prepared to ride each wave up, and down, while you prepare for that next opportunity. Most importantly, you need to have a life that is separate from acting, without that you have nothing. Family, friends, interests, and great loves,” he concluded.
By Laura Lee