After earning an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards for his riveting portrayal of Indian social leader Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Ben Kingsley continues to bring unequaled detail and nuance to each role. In 1984, Kingsley was awarded the Padma Sri by Indira Gandhi and the government of India. Kingsley went on to earn three additional Oscar nominations for Bugsy (1991), Sexy Beast (2000) and House of Sand and Fog (2003), his roles have been as diverse as his talents, from a sturdy vice president in Dave to the scheming Fagin in Oliver Twist. Since being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year’s Eve Honors List 2001, Kingsley has continued to earn honors as a truly international star.
This year, Kingsley was seen in the blockbuster film Iron Man 3, as “The Mandarin.” The film has grossed over $1 billion worldwide to date. Later this year, Kingsley will be seen in Summit Entertainment’s Ender’s Game about an unusually gifted child who is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future alien invasion. Based on the novel of the same name, the film is directed and written by Gavin Hood.
Also this year, Kingsley will be seen in A Common Man, an independent psychological thriller directed by Sri Lankan film maker Chandran Rutnam and the independent comedy A Birder’s Guide to Everything, about a young boy who thinks he’s made the discovery of a lifetime and escapes on an epic road trip with his best friend to solidify their place in birding history.
Currently, Kingsley is in production on Learning to Drive, where he re-teams with his Elegy director Isabel Coixet and co-star Patricia Clarkson. The film is based on a Katha Pollitt personal essay published in The New Yorker in 2002, recounting Pollitt’s biweekly lessons with her Filipino driving instructor as she attempts to earn a license after her lover leaves her. He is simultaneously lending his voice to the Focus Features animated film The Boxtrolls based on the novel Here Be Monsters and has recently been cast in Ridley Scott’s epic film Exodus.
Kingsley has recently completed production on three films; The Physician, an adaptation of Noah Gordon’s best-selling novel which follows a young Christian born into poverty in 11th Century England who ventures across Europe into Muslim-dominated Persia to better study the emerging study of healing; Our Robot Overlords, where Earth has been conquered by Robots from a distant Galaxy and survivors are confined to their houses and must wear electronic implants, risking incineration by Robot Sentries if they venture outside; and Eliza Graves alongside Michael Caine, Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess, a film based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story; a turn of the century thriller about a young doctor who comes up to apprentice at a remote mental institution. He meets a beautiful patient, with whom he falls in love under circumstances which may be much more complicated than they seem.
Kingsley’s other roles include Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator following his role in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Released in 2011 the film earned five Academy Awards. Kingsley was also seen starring in Martin Scorsese’s 1950s drama Shutter Island as well as Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia. He also starred in the sexually charged Elegy, directed by Isabel Coixet, for which he was nominated British Actor of the Year by the London Critics Circle Film Awards. He starred in two films at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival giving further perspective to his work: The Audience Award winning and Grand Jury Prize nominated The Wackness, in which he plays a drug-addled psychiatrist; and the crime thriller Transsiberian, as a mysterious traveler opposite Woody Harrelson. He also starred in50 Dead Men, a thriller set against the dangerous backdrop of 1980s Ireland, and the more lighthearted crime comedy War, Inc. opposite John Cusack.
Steeped in British theatre, Kingsley marked the beginning of his professional acting career with his acceptance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in l967. From roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title roles in Othello and Hamlet, among others, his more recent and diverse stage roles include those in The Country Wife, The Cherry Orchard, A Betrothal and Waiting for Godot.
Kingsley’s film career began in l972 with the thriller Fear Is the Key, but his first major role came a decade later in the epic Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough. He followed this Oscar-winning performance with such early films as Betrayal, Turtle Diary, Harem, Pascali’s Island, Without A Clue (as Dr. Watson to Michael Caine’s Sherlock Holmes) and The Children opposite Kim Novak. During the ‘90s Kingsley distinguished himself through such roles as Mayer Lansky in Bugsy, Sneakers, Searching For Bobby Fischer and Dave. In 1994 he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his memorable supporting role as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg’s seven-time Oscar winner Schindler’s List.
Ben Kingsley has remained a coveted and ubiquitous talent. Beginning with such films as Rules of Engagement, What Planet Are You From? and an Oscar-nominated role as a brutal gangster in Sexy Beast, he received his most recent Oscar nomination in 2004 for his performance as a proud Iranian emigrant in the highly acclaimed House of Sand and Fog. Among his films in the last several years are Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist, the crime drama Lucky Number Slevin, John Dahl’s You Kill Me and the Roman empire saga The Last Legion.