Ben Kingsley

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Sir Ben Kingsley
CBE
Sir Ben Kingsley 2012.jpg
Kingsley at Sundance UK Film Festival Reception 2012
Born Krishna Pandit Bhanji
(1943-12-31) 31 December 1943 (age 70)
Snainton, Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1966–present
Spouse(s)
Children 4; including Ferdinand Kingsley

Sir Ben Kingsley, CBE (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji; 31 December 1943) is an English actor. In a career spanning over 40 years, he has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards. He is known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He is also known for his performances in the films Schindler's List (1993), Sexy Beast (2000), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Hugo (2011), and Iron Man 3 (2013). In 2013 he received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles 'Albert R. Broccoli Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.'

Kingsley was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000, and was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.[1] In 2010, Kingsley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[2]

Early life[edit]

Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji in Snainton, the then-North Riding of Yorkshire. He is the son of Anna Lyna Mary (née Goodman), an actress and model who appeared in films in the 1920s and 1930s, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, a medical doctor.[3][4]

Kingsley's father, born in Kenya, was of Gujarati Indian Ismaili Muslim Khoja descent.[5] Kingsley's paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley's father lived until moving to Britain at the age of 14.[6][7][8] Kingsley's mother was British; she was born out of wedlock, and "was loath to speak of her background".[9][10] Kingsley's maternal grandfather was believed by the family to have been of Russian- or German-Jewish descent, while Kingsley's maternal grandmother was of English background, and worked in the garment district of East London.[11] Kingsley stated in 1994: "I'm not Jewish... and though there might be some Russian-Jewish heritage way back on my mother's side, the thread is so fine there's no real evidence".[12][13]

Kingsley grew up in Pendlebury, near Manchester. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, where one of his classmates was the actor Robert Powell.[14]

Early career[edit]

Kingsley studied at the University of Salford and at Pendleton College, which later became home to the Ben Kingsley Theatre.

Whilst at college he became involved in amateur dramatics in Manchester, making his professional stage debut on graduation, aged 23. In 1967 he made his London West End theatre debut at the Aldwych Theatre. Later he was spotted by music producer and manager Dick James, who offered to mould Kingsley into a pop star, but Kingsley chose to join the Royal Shakespeare Company after an audition before Trevor Nunn.

Devoting himself almost exclusively to stage work for the next 15 years, he made his Broadway debut in 1971 with the RSC. Kingsley played Mosca in Peter Hall's 1977 production of Ben Jonson's Volpone for the Royal National Theatre, and in Peter Brook's acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. At about this time, he changed his name from Krishna Pandit Bhanji to Ben Kingsley, fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career;[15][16] he took his stage surname from his paternal grandfather's nickname, "King Clove".[13] He also starred in the role of Willy Loman in a 1982 production of Death of a Salesman in Sydney, Australia opposite Mel Gibson.

Film and television career[edit]

Kingsley made the transition to film roles early on, with his first role coming in Fear Is the Key, released in 1972. Kingsley continued starring in bit roles in both film and television, including a role as Ron Jenkins on the soap opera Coronation Street from 1966 to 1967 and regular appearances as a defence counsel in the long-running British legal programme Crown Court. In 1975, he starred as Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the BBCs historical drama The Love School. He found fame only years later, starring as Mohandas Gandhi in the Academy Award-winning film Gandhi in 1982, his best-known role to date.[15] The film was a critical and financial success, and Kingsley won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.[15]

Kingsley (left) with Ben Cross (centre) and Chandran Rutnam (right) at Fort Railway Station in Sri Lanka, during shooting of the Rutnam-directed film A Common Man.

Kingsley has since appeared in a variety of roles. His credits included the films Turtle Diary, Maurice, Pascali's Island, Without a Clue (as Dr. Watson alongside Michael Caine's Sherlock Holmes), Suspect Zero, Bugsy (nominated for Best Supporting Actor), Sneakers, Dave, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Schindler's List, Silas Marner, Death and the Maiden, Sexy Beast, for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and House of Sand and Fog, which led to an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He won a Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2001.

In 1997, he provided voice talent for the video game Ceremony of Innocence. In 1998, he was the head of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[17]

In July 2006, he received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the made-for-TV film Mrs. Harris, in which he played famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower, who was murdered by his jilted lover, Jean Harris. Later that year, Kingsley appeared in an episode of The Sopranos entitled "Luxury Lounge", playing himself. In the show, characters Christopher Moltisanti and Carmine Lupertazzi offer him a role in the fictional slasher film Cleaver, which he turns down. Lupertazzi offers him the role on the basis of Kingsley's real-life performance in Sexy Beast. In 2007, Kingsley appeared as a Polish American mobster in the Mafia comedy You Kill Me, and a hitman in War, Inc.

In 2010, Kingsley worked voicing a character named Sabine in Lionhead Studios game Fable III, and starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese. He appeared in Scorsese's next film, Hugo, and signed up to appear in a new feature by Neil Jordan and John Boorman entitled Broken Dream.[18]

In 2013, he appeared as the villain The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, and as the hero Mazer Rackham in Ender's Game.

Honours[edit]

Kingsley at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival

Kingsley was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. He was made a knight bachelor in the 2002 New Year Honours.[1][19] The award was announced on 31 December 2001, which happened to be Kingsley's 58th birthday.[20] After receiving his award from Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, Kingsley stated; "I told the Queen that winning an Oscar pales into insignificance - this is insurmountable. I'm fascinated by the ancient, by mythology, by these islands and their tradition of story telling. I feel that I am a story teller and to receive a knighthood is really recognition of that."[1] His demand to be called 'Sir' was documented by the BBC, to some criticism.[21] Since then, Kingsley appears to have altered his stance; credits for his latest films refer to him as Ben Kingsley. Co-star Penélope Cruz was reportedly unsure what to call him during the filming of Elegy as someone had told her she needed to refer to him as "Sir Ben". One day it slipped out as such, and she called him that for the remainder of the shoot.[22]

In 1984, he won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word or Nonmusical Recording for The Words of Gandhi. He was awarded the Indian civilian honour Padma Shri in 1984.[23] In May 2010, Kingsley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[2] In April 2013, Kingsley was honoured with the Fellowship Award at The Asian Awards in London.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Kingsley has been married four times and has four children: Thomas Bhanji and artist Jasmin Bhanji, with actress Angela Morant, and Edmund Kingsley and Ferdinand Kingsley, both of whom became actors, with theatrical director Alison Sutcliffe. In 2005, he divorced German-born Alexandra Christmann, having been "deeply, deeply shocked" after pictures of her kissing another man surfaced on the Internet.[25] On 3 September 2007, Kingsley married Daniela Lavender, a Brazilian actress, at Eynsham Hall, in North Leigh, Oxfordshire.[26]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Sir Ben: Knighthood beats Oscar". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2013
  2. ^ a b Sir Ben Kingsley gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, BBC News. Retrieved 20 June 2010
  3. ^ Film Reference.com Biography
  4. ^ Husband, Stuart (24 April 2013). "Sir Ben Kingsley: 'Without a mask, I haven't got a clue'". Telegraph. 
  5. ^ BBC:Sir Ben Kingsley's gold turban
  6. ^ Bennetts, Leslie. Ben Kingsley’s Journey From Hamlet to Gandhi. New York Times: Best Pictures. 13 December 1982.
  7. ^ von Busack, Richard. Sexy Beast. Metroactive movies. March 2005.
  8. ^ Pathak, Rujul. Ben Kingsley's Chameleon Characters. Little India.com. 15 June 2005.
  9. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi. Shoah dramas continue to compel actor Ben Kingsley. L.A. Jewish Journal. 18 May 2001.
  10. ^ Tugend, Tom. Incidental Intelligence. JewishJournal.com. 13 April 2001.
  11. ^ Krieger, Hilary Leila (10 April 2005). "'Gandhi' brings his 'truth-force' to Palestinian audiences". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 9 December 2007. : "The grandmother of the knighted Royal Shakespeare Company alum spoke Yiddish she picked up while a garment worker in London's East End a century ago. "She was violently opposed to talking about this, so my poor mother was at the receiving end of a rage attack every time my grandmother was asked about her husband, her lover, whoever it was, but it's believed that he was a Russian Jew or a German Jew called Goodman", Kingsley told The Jerusalem Post".
  12. ^ Pollack, Joe (1994-03-03). "He's No Stranger to Holocaust". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "I'm not Jewish," he said, "and though there might be some Russian-Jewish heritage way back on my mother's side, the thread is so fine there's no real evidence..." 
  13. ^ a b Moreton, Cole (15 May 2010). "The dark family secret that drove Ben Kingsley to success". The Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 18 May 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Walsh, John (6 March 2010). "Sir Ben Kingsley: 'I was blessed by being a very popular child". The Independent. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  16. ^ "Sir Ben's Sexy honour", BBC News. 31 December 2001.
  17. ^ "Berlinale: 1998 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  18. ^ "Ben Kingsley & John Hurt for Neil Jordan–John Boorman film 'Broken Dream'". IFTN. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56430. p. 1. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
  20. ^ The Guardian, 31 December 2001
  21. ^ "Lord Puttnam dubs Sir Ben 'barmy'". BBC News. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  22. ^ Cruz Baffled By Kingley's Title (WENN News) at IMDb
  23. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  24. ^ Winners at the Asian Awards
  25. ^ "Kingsley Admits Devastation at Adulterous Wife Photos". Contact Music News. 16 November 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2007. 
  26. ^ "Kingsley weds Brazilian actress". BBC. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 

External links[edit]