'Bloodline' Star Ben Mendelsohn on Danny's Take on Season 2 Ending

The actor, who delivered a breakout performance in the first season of the Netflix series and returned for a second season despite his character dying, talks about how long he'll be around.
Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler in the second season of Netflix's 'Bloodline.'

[Warning: The following story contains spoilers from the second season of Netflix's Bloodline.]

Despite his character dying at the end of Bloodline's first season, Ben Mendelsohn returned to the Netflix series for its second season, playing Danny Rayburn in flashbacks and as a ghost-like version of the eldest son envisioned by his killer, younger brother John (Kyle Chandler).

But it's not clear how much longer Mendelsohn will be on the Florida Keys-set series, which has yet to be renewed for a third season in the wake of the state ending its tax-incentive program. The actor, who will appear in the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One and Steven Spielberg's upcoming Ready Player One was non-committal about his future on Bloodline. When asked how long he will be playing Danny, Mendelsohn simply said, "I'm not sure. There's not been any solid discussions one way or the other on that, so I'm not sure."

Still Danny, who hung over the events of the second season, was a key part of the cliffhanger ending. He joined John in the passenger seat of his brother's truck as John drove away from the Keys. And as John's detective partner Marco (Enrique Murciano) found out who was responsible for Danny's death, with youngest brother Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz) confessing about John's involvement, Kevin appeared to either kill or significantly wound Marco by hitting him over the head with a statuette.

Mendelsohn spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about playing John's vision of Danny, how the black-sheep brother would react to his siblings' behavior and, for viewers who are still suspicious, whether Nolan (Owen Teague) is in fact Danny's son.

What was it like returning for this season as a character who only appears in flashbacks or as sort of a ghost that John sees?

The spectral Danny: That's really open to enormous interpretation, I think. How you're playing it and stuff like that. And the older stuff was a little more straightforward in that there's a narrative line you can get a hold of and you can make sense of what, why and how. I think working with Andrea [Riseborough] and John [Leguizamo], it was like starting a whole new show. Sort of like a whole new ballgame.

Talk to me a bit about working on those "spectral" scenes as you called them with Kyle Chandler. Did you talk with Kyle or the writers ahead of time before filming those because it's like you and Kyle sort of have to tap into the same thing?

No, no. But we never did. We would almost never talk about anything to do with what, why and how, Kyle and I, we'd just sort of kick the ball around. They were a lot quieter those scenes. They happened, if I remember rightly, almost exclusively in his truck. I think there might have been one or two that were somewhere here or there but almost always just when he was alone. They had a strange sort of an intimacy, sort of like the essence of either one, kind of like self-talk almost, so it can be very whispered and very direct and either consoling or upsetting or activating in some way.

At the end of the season, when John's driving off with Danny in the passenger seat, Danny asks, "Where are we going?" Why doesn't Danny know where they're going? Because John doesn't know because they're just driving?

I'm not entirely sure, but that would have been closer to what my take is on it, that there is that whole thing of like, 'What are we doing now?' Like, 'What exactly is the plan now?' I also think it speaks to something about [Danny] and John … and there's a part of that that speaks to John wanting to bring Danny to life within himself, that idea of  'F— it, just drive, just keep going.' Don't want to have to deal with the next thing. 'Let's go.'

John, for once, seems to feel like he doesn't have to be responsible for the family and protecting people and himself. How do you think Danny would feel about that — is there a pride there?

I think he would really celebrate. I think like any big change within the family system — I think on one hand, I'd like to think he'd applaud it, but I don't know if he'd be as easy with it, John, as he might like to think either because the roles in that family are pretty set. They've all had the better part of 40 years to cook into their roles.

What would Danny's reaction be to Kevin killing or significantly injuring Marco at the end of the season after Marco learns who killed Danny?

I think that wouldn't be a surprise because Kevin is prone to real upheaval and outburst kind of stuff and he is kind of the hot head of them, probably the closest to Robert (Sam Shepard), the dad.

Is Nolan really Danny's son?

It's fair to say that anything that an audience can't realistically point to then the cast probably can't point to absolutely either. I think it'd be pretty remarkable if Nolan wasn't Danny's son. It's not not possible. He could, shit, he could be John's son, he could be Kevin's son. But I think since he bears such a strong resemblance to the young Danny, in particular, that's a big pointer.