The 38-year-old star named Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as the two actresses she admires most when discussing her role as a mother in her latest film Girl in Progress.
Mendes recalled that her role as a mother in Training Day was what put her on the map.
"I think that, when you play a mother, whether you play a bad mother or a not so great mother or an amazing mother, being a mother is already so complicated," she told Collider.
"It's already three-dimensional, automatically, no matter what the role is, because you're playing a mother. I welcome it. The more complicated a role can be and the more flawed a character can be is what I'm looking for.
"The careers that I admire and actually try to emulate are those of Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. Those women, to me, make amazing choices. They're sexy, beautiful women, but that doesn't dictate their choices."
Mendes can also be seen in the PBS documentary Half the Sky and The Place Beyond the Pines, which stars Mendes's real-life love Ryan Gosling.
Watch the trailer for Girl in Progress below: