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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 16:11 GMT
Sir Ben's Sexy honour
Sir Ben Kingsley
Sir Ben Kingsley has been acting for almost 40 years
Sir Ben Kingsley's knighthood comes on his 58th birthday - and ends a memorable year for the actor.

UK gangster film Sexy Beast propelled him back into the cinema limelight, almost 20 years after the release of the movie which won him an Oscar - Gandhi.

He was born Krishna Bhanji near Scarborough, to a Ugandan Asian doctor and an English-born actress.

Aged 19, he finally decided to follow in his mother's footsteps after seeing Ian Holm play Richard III with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He adopted the name Ben Kingsley after his father said he would only make it in cinema if he had an English name.

Recording contract

Sir Ben started work as a laboratory technician, doing amateur dramatics in his spare time, and later turned down the chance of pop stardom when Beatles manager Brian Epstein offered him a recording contract after seeing him in a musical.

Sir Ben Kingsley
Sir Ben took an early role in Coronation Street
Sir Ben stuck with acting, joining the Coronation Street cast in 1966, where he played Ron Jenkins, who was involved with Ken Barlow's first wife Val.

He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967, and his film debut came in 1972 thriller Fear Is The Key.

A small part in 1973 Mike Leigh drama Hard Labour followed, but stage and TV roles dominated his career throught the 1970s.

But in 1982, he landed the title role in Sir Richard Attenborough's epic Gandhi.

His portrayal of India's pacifist leader made him a household name, and landed him an Academy Award for best actor.

Sir Ben prepared for the part by losing several stones in weight, and reading 23 volumes of Gandhi's collected works.

He later said the experience was like "having a layer of skin peeled off my eyeballs".

Variety

But the 1980s saw him take a variety of roles in less high-profile films, including two written by Harold Pinter - Betrayal and Turtle Diary.

He starred in the 1987 Merchant-Ivory picture Maurice, and teamed up with Sir Michael Caine in the 1988 Sherlock Holmes comedy Without A Clue.

Sir Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast
His scene-stealing role as Don Logan in Sexy Beast won plaudits
Sir Ben picked up an Oscar nomination for his part in 1991's Bugsy, and in 1993 he appeared in Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List. There, he played Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern, the conscience of factory owner Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson.

He started 2001 in an unusual role - as wildly unstable gang boss Don Logan in gangster film Sexy Beast, who dashes to Spain to harass retired criminal Gal Dove into taking on one last job.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer, Sexy Beast was widely acclaimed, introducing Sir Ben to a new audience. It earned him a best actor prize at the British Independent Film Awards.

It could also give him a bright start to 2002 - he has two Golden Globe supporting actor nominations, one for Sexy Beast, the other for TV movie Anne Frank.



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10 Mar 99 | Entertainment
25 Oct 01 | Film
09 Jan 01 | Entertainment
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