Ben Kingsley: Wikis


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Ben Kingsley

Kingsley at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
Born Krishna Pandit Bhanji
31 December 1943 (1943-12-31) (age 66)
Snainton, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1966–present
Spouse(s) Angela Morant (1966-1972)
Alison Sutcliffe (1978-1992)
Alexandra Christmann (2003-2005)
Daniela Lavender (2007-)

Sir Ben Kingsley, CBE (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji (Gujarati: ક્રિશ્ન પન્દિત્ ભઞિ); 31 December 1943 - 18 March 2010) is an English actor. He has won Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards in his career. He is known for starring as Mohandas Gandhi in the film Gandhi in 1982, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.


Early life

Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji[1] in Snainton, near Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, the son of Anna Lyna Mary (née Goodman), an actress and model, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, a medical doctor.[2]

Kingsley's father was born in Kenya of Gujarati Indian descent; Kingsley's paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley's father lived until moving to England at the age of 14.[3][4][5] Ben Kingsley's mother, born out of wedlock, was "loath to speak of her background"; she was the daughter of an English East London garment worker mother and a father who was believed by the family to have been a Russian or German Jew.[6][7][8][9]

Kingsley grew up in Pendlebury, near Salford, and attended the Manchester Grammar School, where one of his classmates was actor Robert Powell.[10] He studied at the University of Salford and Pendleton College, which later became home to the Ben Kingsley Theatre. Kingsley began his acting career on stage, but made a transition to film roles early on. Despite this focus on film, he continued to act on the stage, playing 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 Bhanji to Ben Kingsley, fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career.[9][11]

Film and television career

Kingsley's first film role was a supporting turn 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.[9] The audience also agreed with the critics, and Gandhi was a box-office success. Kingsley won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.[9]

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, which led to an Oscar nomination 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 yet another 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 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, 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 Middle Eastern oil minister in War, Inc. In 2010, Kingsley starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Kingsley's SBK-Pictures has been planning to bring the story of the Native American Conley Sisters to the big screen in Whispers Like Thunder, with Kingsley playing the role of Charles Curtis, the first part-Native American to become vice-president of the United States.[12]


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's Honours (the award was announced on 31 December 2001, his 58th birthday).[13] On promotional material for the 2006 film Lucky Number Slevin, Kingsley was referred to as "Sir Ben Kingsley." At first, the actor was singled out for some criticism, as such titles had generally come to be omitted from professional credits by that time.[citation needed] It was claimed that the inclusion of "Sir" was a mistake by a studio executive.[citation needed]

His demand to be called 'Sir' was documented by the BBC, to some criticism.[14] Since then, Kingsley appears to have altered his stance; credits for his latest films refer to him only as 'Ben Kingsley'. Penelope Cruz was 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 rest of the shoot.[15]

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 honor Padma Shri in 1985.[16]

In addition, in 2008, Kingsley was awarded the "Cinema for Peace Honorary Award", for the portrayal of the humanitarian role-models Simon Wiesenthal, Itzhak Stern and Gandhi.

Personal life

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.[17] On 3 September 2007, Kingsley married Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro, a Brazilian actress, in North Leigh, Oxfordshire.[18]

He currently lives in Spelsbury, Oxfordshire, England, where he has lived for over ten years.[19]

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1972 Fear Is The Key
1982 Gandhi Mohandas Gandhi Academy Award for Best Actor
1983 Betrayal Robert The film version of Harold Pinter's play
1985 Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe Silas Marner
Harem Selim
1986 Turtle Diary William Snow Screenplay by Harold Pinter
1987 The Secret of the Sahara Sholomon TV
Maurice Lasker-Jones
1988 Pascali's Island Basil Pascali
Without a Clue Dr. John Watson
Testimony — The Story of Shostakovich Dmitri Shostakovich
1989 Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story Simon Wiesenthal
1990 The 5th Monkey Cunda
1991 Bugsy Meyer Lansky Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor
1992 Sneakers Cosmo
Freddie as F.R.O.7 Freddie The Frog Voice
1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer Bruce Pandolfini
Dave Vice President Gary Nance
Schindler's List Itzhak Stern
1994 Death and the Maiden Dr. Roberto Miranda
1995 Species Xavier Fitch
Joseph Potiphar
Moses Moses
1996 Twelfth Night Feste From the play by William Shakespeare
1997 Weapons of Mass Distraction Julian Messenger TV
The Assignment Amos
1998 The Tale of Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd TV
Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actor
1999 Alice in Wonderland Major Caterpillar TV
The Confession Harry Fertig
2000 What Planet Are YOU From? Graydon
Rules of Engagement Ambassador Mourain
Islam: Empire of Faith Narrator VoicE
2001 Anne Frank: The Whole Story Otto Frank Won Screen Actor's Guild Award
Sexy Beast Don Logan Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor
AI: Artificial Intelligence Specialist Voice
2002 The Triumph of Love Hermocrates Marivaux's play
Tuck Everlasting Man in the Yellow Suit
2003 House of Sand and Fog Massoud Behrani Academy Award nomination for Best Actor
2004 Thunderbirds "The Hood" loosely based on the super-marionation programme created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson
Suspect Zero Benjamin O'Ryan
2005 A Sound of Thunder Charles Hatton
Oliver Twist Fagin
Mrs. Harris Herman Tarnower
BloodRayne Kagan
2006 The Sopranos Himself TV
Season 6, Episode 72 - "Luxury Lounge"
Lucky Number Slevin The Rabbi
2007 You Kill Me Frank Falenczyk
The Last Legion Ambrosinus
The Ten Commandments Narrator Voice
2008 Elegy David Kepesh
War, Inc. Walken
The Love Guru Guru Tugginmypudha
The Wackness Dr. Squires
Transsiberian Grinko
China's Stolen Children Narrator Voice
Fifty Dead Men Walking Fergus
2009 Noah's Ark: The New Beginning Narrator Voice
Journey to Mecca Narrator Voice
2010 Shutter Island Dr. John Cawley
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time[20] Nizam post-production
Whispers Like Thunder[21] Vice President Charles Curtis pre-production
Teen Patti Perci Trachtenberg post-production
2011 Taj[22] Shah Jahan pre-production


  1. ^ Johnston, Sheila (2009-04-04), "Ben Kingsley interview: dark soul of the knight", The Daily Telegraph (Review): 10–11, .
  2. ^ Film Biography
  3. ^ Bennetts, Leslie. Ben Kingsley’s Journey From Hamlet to Gandhi. New York Times: Best Pictures. 13 December 1982.
  4. ^ von Busack, Richard. Sexy Beast. Metroactive movies. March 2005.
  5. ^ Pathak, Rujul. Ben Kingsley's Chameleon Characters. Little 15 June 2005.
  6. ^ Krieger, Hilary Leila (2005-04-10). "'Gandhi' brings his 'truth-force' to Palestinian audiences". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2007-12-09. : "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".
  7. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi. Shoah dramas continue to compel actor Ben Kingsley. L.A. Jewish Journal. 18 May 2001.
  8. ^ Tugend, Tom. Incidental Intelligence. 13 April 2001.
  9. ^ a b c d Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  10. ^ Walsh, John (2010-03-06). "Sir Ben Kingsley: 'I was blessed by being a very popular child". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  11. ^ Sir Ben's Sexy honour. BBC News. 31 December 2001.
  12. ^ Ben Kingsley's SBK announces slate-Variety Nov 17, 2008
  13. ^ The Guardian, 31 December 2001
  14. ^ "Lord Puttnam dubs Sir Ben 'barmy'". BBC News. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  15. ^ Cruz Baffled By Kingley's Title - WENN News
  16. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  17. ^ "Kingsley Admits Devastation at Adulterous Wife Photos". Contact Music News. 2005-11-16. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  18. ^ "Kingsley weds Brazilian actress". BBC. 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  19. ^ Johnson, Richard. "Dear Sir". Sunday Telegraph. 15 August 2007.
  20. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2008-06-03). "Molina, Kingsley join 'Prince Of Persia'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  21. ^ Siegal, Tatiana (2008-11-17). "Ben Kingsley's SBK announces slate". Variety. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  22. ^ "Ben Kingsley To Play Shah Jahan, Emperor Who Built Taj Mahal". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 

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