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Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Kingsley at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con
Krishna Pandit Bhanji

(1943-12-31) 31 December 1943 (age 75)
Years active1966–present
Home townPendlebury, Salford, Greater Manchester
Children4, including Ferdinand Kingsley

Sir Ben Kingsley (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji; 31 December 1943)[1][2][3][4] is an English actor with a career spanning over 50 years. He has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. 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 has appeared in Schindler's List (1993), Twelfth Night (1996), Sexy Beast (2000), House of Sand and Fog (2003), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Shutter Island (2010), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Hugo (2011), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Boxtrolls (2014), and The Jungle Book (2016).

Kingsley was appointed Knight Bachelor in 2002 for services to the British film industry.[5] In 2010, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[6] In 2013, he received the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.[7]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Sir Ben Kingsley Speaks at Our 2014 Los Angeles Dinner


Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, there are voices in my head, and there are voices my heart, and at times they're the same voice times, and at times they're separate. In George Steiner's remarkable book The Reader, George indeed writes, When we attempt to describe the Holocaust, the language breaks." What intellectual vigor, discipline, stamina, determination, let alone days of painful research must Saul Friedlander have mined in order to write his massive tome The Years of Extermination: 1933-1945. One of the great voices in my heart is Simon Wiesenthal, whom I first met in Vienna, of all places, in 1988. I visited his office where he gestured to his mass of files and said "Blood turned to ink." Later over lunch at the Schwarzenberg Hotel, he told me of the liberation by Americans of Mauthausen. He said, "All the liberated prisoners had a flag of their home nation, but we did not have a Jewish flag. Some of the prisoners tore up their blue and white striped shirts, and somehow they fashioned a Jewish flag, which they were able to wave for a few precious moments, after which they collapsed in exhaustion. It was their final act." He paused in telling the story and wiped openly wept tears with his hand thus. He in his own grief helped the rest of us to grieve. Grief is an essential part of healing, and to this day, I personally do not believe Europe allowed herself to grieve. I first met Elie Wiesel in Berlin in the wings of a great theater. Both of us were invited to speak. As he walked on stage to address the Berlin audience, I felt their collective heartbeat stop, their breath hold. These were Elie Wiesel's opening words,and I was on stage with him when he uttered them. "My dear young Germans, I know it is very difficult being you. An English poet of the Victorian era took it upon himself to write of forgiveness with, I suspect, a glass of one hand and a pen in the other, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each others persons life, sorrow, and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." Let me counter Mr. Longfellow with a simple statement from a young German philosopher: "We measure everything by Auschwitz." A voice I listened to repeatedly is General Axel vom dem Bussche: "We Germans," and this could be universal, but he said, "We Germans will move into the twenty-first century with an indigestible lump of history that must not be forgotten, may never be forgiven, and will never be understood." So Thomas Keneally leaves his book signing in Beverly Hills, and he goes in search of a new briefcase. He walks into Poldek Pfefferberg's store in Beverly Hills to purchase one. Poldek, a Schindler survivor, Poldek and Mila, with whom I spend a lot of time. He was naturally curious and he asked Thomas what he did for a living. "I'm a writer," answered Thomas, and thus began an extraordinary cooperation between Poldek Pfefferberg, Thomas Keneally, Steven Zaillian, and Steven Spielberg. Thomas Keneally, who said, in my presence, "Europe committed suicide in 1933." "This list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf." I've had this brilliant couplet of poetry quoted to me as far afield as the Canary Islands by a young woman with tears in her eyes. Yes, the language breaks but, that unique combination of rage and poetry reached someone, reaches millions. I arrived on dear Steven's set one morning in a rage, having defended one of my Israeli colleagues from a violently antisemitic attack, a German-speaking Pole who attacked my friend publicly, in a bar, in five-star hotel in Cracow. I told Steven I was in a rage. "Then we must use it. We must use your rage," said Steven. I carried a photograph of Anne Frank in my pocket, which sustained me throughout the shoot of Schindler's List along with my darling Steven and my wonderful cast. I used to pull the photograph out of my pocket. I used to say, "I'm doing this for you." Later in Amsterdam Miep Gies made me coffee in her Amsterdam apartment, and as we chatted under the beautiful portrait of Anne on her wall, she recounted to me, to me, how she found the diary, having sheltered and defended the Franks for years. She told the story in the most animated of terms. After the attic had been evacuated by Silberbauer and his men, Miep came up to the attic, and she saw the chaos, the scattered pages on the floor, and I saw Miep do this. She enacted it for me. She said, "Look, look! There is the diary of Anne!" There is the diary of Anne. And that's how it began. And the world heard Anne. The voices in my heart. I loved Miep. I spent time with Jacqueline van Maarsen, Anne's best friend at school. But what remains with me is a man who worked with Otto Frank after the war. He waited outside my trailer. He wanted to meet me, and I left my trailer costumed and made up as Otto, and the man opened his arms when he saw me and cried, "There is my friend! There is my friend!" And this, dear members of our profession, is our task: That unspeakably difficult though it seems, when a yellow star appears on the screen, we must make audiences make that connection, make that realization: "There is my friend." To the members my profession, Kate, my wife, the actors, directors, writers, producers, agents, let me say this: When your motives are pure, the angels will come. When you walk into that office with your precious manuscript under your arm, your story from those years of extermination, be empwered by this: Think of millions of lost stories, the silenced stories. Shakespeare's Hamlet's last words to his Horatio, his friend: "And draw thy breath in pain to tell my story." Let me conclude with the words of my two dear friends, Elie Wiesel and Simon Wiesenthal. Elie: "Let us tell tales. All the rest can wait. All the rest must wait. Let us tell tales. That is our primary obligation. Commentaries will have to come later lest they replace or becloud what they mean to reveal. Let us tell tales so as to remember how vulnerable man is when faced with overwhelming evil. Let us tell tales so as not to allow the executioner to have the last word. The last word belongs to the victim. It is up to the witness to capture it, shape it transmit it." And Simon Wiesenthal. Simon was a dad to me, he was a dad, and it was Simon who told me this: "When I pass to the other side and meet all those who perished, I will be able to say, 'I never forgot you.'" I thank you for giving me a mission, to be a witness. Thank you.


Early life

Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji in Snainton, near Scarborough in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He is the son of Anna Lyna Mary (born Goodman; 1914–2010), an actress and model who appeared in films in the 1920s and 1930s, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji (1914–1968), a doctor.[8][9]

Kingsley's mother was British; she was born out of wedlock, and "was loath to speak of her background".[10][11] Kingsley's father, born in Kenya, was of Gujarati descent.[12] Kingsley's paternal grandfather was an extremely successful spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley's father lived until moving to Britain at the age of 14.[13][14][15] 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.[16] 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."[2][17]

Kingsley grew up in Pendlebury, near Manchester. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, where one of his classmates was the actor Robert Powell.[18]


Early career

Kingsley studied at De La Salle College in Salford, which later became home to the Ben Kingsley Theatre. While 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 to Ben Kingsley, fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career.[19][20] He took his stage name from his father's nickname (at Dulwich College) of "Benji" and his paternal grandfather's nickname of "King Cloves".[2] He also starred in the role of Willy Loman in a 1982 Sydney production of Death of a Salesman opposite Mel Gibson.

Film and television

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 and appeared in the TV miniseries Dickens of London the following year. He found fame as Mohandas Gandhi in the Academy Award-winning film Gandhi in 1982. The film was a critical and financial success, and Kingsley won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.[19]

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.[21]

In 1997, he provided a voice in the video game Ceremony of Innocence. In 1998, he was the head of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[22]

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 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 also 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.[23]

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

Kingsley's 2014 film roles included Exodus: Gods and Kings, as Nun, a Hebrew slave, and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, as Merenkahre, a simulacrum of an Egyptian pharaoh (in one scene, the character discusses his Hebrew slaves).[24]

In 2015, Kingsley played a driving instructor in the film Learning to Drive.[25] He voiced Bagheera in Disney's reboot of The Jungle Book,[26] and recorded Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi in book-on-tape format.

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.[27] He divorced Alexandra Christmann, originally from Germany, in 2005, having been "deeply, deeply shocked" after pictures of her kissing another man surfaced on the internet.[28] On 3 September 2007, Kingsley married Daniela Lavender, a Brazilian actress, at Eynsham Hall, in North Leigh, Oxfordshire.[29]


Kingsley at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
Kingsley at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival

Kingsley was created a Knight Bachelor in the 2002 New Year Honours for services to the British film industry.[5][30] The award was announced on 31 December 2001, which happened to be Kingsley's 58th birthday.[31] 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."[5] His demand to be called 'Sir' was documented by the BBC, to some criticism.[32] 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.[33] Kingsley has denied accusations that he prefers to be referred to by his title, saying, "If I've ever insisted on being called 'Sir' by colleagues on a film set then I am profoundly sorry. I don't remember ever doing that and I tend not to forget."[34]

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.[35] In May 2010, Kingsley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[6] In April 2013, Kingsley was honoured with the Fellowship Award at The Asian Awards in London.[36]


Award and nominations

Year Category Work Result
1982 Academy Award for Best Actor Gandhi Won
1982 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role Won
1982 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Won
1982 Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Male Won
1985 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album[37] "The Words of Gandhi" Won
1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Bugsy Nominated
1991 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Nominated
1993 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role Schindler's List Nominated
2001 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Sexy Beast Nominated
2001 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Nominated
2001 Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor Won
2001 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie Anne Frank: The Whole Story Nominated
2001 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Won
2003 Academy Award for Best Actor House of Sand and Fog Nominated
2003 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
2003 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
2003 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead Nominated
2011 Saturn Award for Best Actor Hugo Nominated
2013 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor Iron Man 3 Won
2015 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production The Boxtrolls Won


  1. ^ "Kingsley, Sir Ben, (born 31 Dec. 1943), actor". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.23178.
  2. ^ a b c Moreton, Cole (21 May 2010). "The dark family secret that drove Ben Kingsley to success". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  3. ^ Steele, Francesca (19 April 2014). "Ferdinand Kingsley interview: 'Yeah, but mum's dad was totally bald too!'". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Ben Kingsley". Belief. BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Sir Ben: Knighthood beats Oscar". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Sir Ben Kingsley gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". BBC News. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  7. ^ "The Britannia Awards: Kathryn Bigelow and Sir Ben Kingsley". Bafta. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Ben Kingsley Biography (1943-)". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  9. ^ Husband, Stuart (24 April 2013). "Sir Ben Kingsley: 'Without a mask, I haven't got a clue'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  10. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (18 May 2001). "Shoah dramas continue to compel actor Ben Kingsley". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  11. ^ Tugend, Tom (13 April 2001). "Incidental Intelligence". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007.
  12. ^ "Sir Ben Kingsley's gold turban". A History of the World in 100 Objects. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  13. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (13 December 1982). "Ben Kingsley's Journey From Hamlet to Gandhi". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  14. ^ Von Busack, Richard. Sexy Beast. Metroactive movies. March 2005.
  15. ^ Pathak, Rujul. Ben Kingsley's Chameleon Characters Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. Little 15 June 2005.
  16. ^ Krieger, Hilary Leila (10 April 2005). "'Gandhi' brings his 'truth-force' to Palestinian audiences". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. (Subscription required (help)).: "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".
  17. ^ Pollack, Joe (3 January 1994). "He's No Stranger to Holocaust". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 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...
  18. ^ Walsh, John (6 March 2010). "Sir Ben Kingsley: 'I was blessed by being a very popular child". The Independent. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  19. ^ a b Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  20. ^ "Sir Ben's Sexy honour", BBC News. 31 December 2001.
  21. ^ Andre Deutsch (2003 ). "Variety International Film Guide". p. 377.
  22. ^ "Berlinale: 1998 Juries". Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  23. ^ "Ben Kingsley & John Hurt for Neil Jordan–John Boorman film 'Broken Dream'". IFTN. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
  24. ^ "Ridley Scott In 'Exodus' Talks With Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul". 27 August 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  25. ^ Doty, Meriah. "Ben Kingsley Reveals the Challenges of 'Learning to Drive' and the Beauty of Connecting With Fans". Yahoo. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  26. ^ "Ben Kingsley To Voice Bagheera In Disney's 'The Jungle Book'". Deadline. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  27. ^ Ensor, Josie (14 April 2013). "Sir Ben Kingsley: my Hollywood actress mother was jealous of my success". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  28. ^ "Kingsley Admits Devastation at Adulterous Wife Photos". Contact Music News. 16 November 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
  29. ^ "Kingsley weds Brazilian actress". BBC News. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  30. ^ "No. 56430". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2001. p. 1.
  31. ^ "Parker and Kingsley receive New Year knighthoods". The Guardian. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Lord Puttnam dubs Sir Ben 'barmy'". BBC News. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  33. ^ Cruz Baffled By Kingsley's Title (WENN News) at IMDb
  34. ^ Hastings, Chris (26 February 2006). "If I ever insisted on being called 'Sir' on a film, then I am really sorry, says Sir Ben Kingsley". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  35. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  36. ^ "Special Report: Asian Awards 2013". - The latest movies, interviews in Bollywood. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Grammy Award Nominees 1985 - Grammy Award Winners 1985".

External links

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