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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 16:59 GMT
Ben Kingsley's love of film
Ben Kingsley
House of Sand and Fog marks Sir Ben's fourth Oscar nomination
BBC News Online profiles Sir Ben Kingsley, who won his first Oscar in 1982 but missed out on a second statuette in 2004.

Such was the impact of Ben Kingsley's performance in Gandhi that, had he never made another film, he would still be guaranteed a place in screen history.

Playing Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic was a tough act to follow, but the Yorkshire-born, RSC-trained actor went on to prove his durability and versatility in a series of eye-catching roles.

In Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, he was dignity personified as a Jew struggling to survive in Hitler's death camps.

The same year he was both pathetic and chilling as a doctor who may or may not have been a political torturer in Death and the Maiden.

Then there was Sexy Beast, in which director Jonathan Glazer cast him as a psychotic, chrome-domed gangster with a temper almost as short as his hair.

Ben Kingsley
Kingsley plays an Iranian immigrant forced into menial labour
Given this impressive pedigree, his Oscar nomination for the downbeat drama House of Sand and Fog comes as little surprise.

Kingsley regards Behrani, an Iranian immigrant fighting to build a home in America for his wife and son, as one of his best ever roles.

"With Attenborough, with Spielberg, with Jonathan Glazer, I had the most extraordinary opportunities," he says.

"But I think Behrani is possibly the portrait I'm most fond of in my whole career."

Born Krishna Bhanji in 1943, this son of a Ugandan Asian doctor and an English-born actress spent his early days on stage, gravitating to film relatively late in his career.

It could all have been very different, though, had he heeded the advice of John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

Kingsley made his London stage debut in 1966 in A Smashing Day, produced by Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

The then 23-year-old wrote the music for the production, and after one performance Lennon and Starr told him to pursue a recording career.

Ben Kingsley will next be seen as The Hood in Thunderbirds
Kingsley stuck with acting, with a role in Coronation Street followed by a long tenure at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Since Gandhi, though, he has devoted himself to movies, for which he expresses a special regard.

"I'm completely in love with film as a medium," he says.

"I love the minimalism it forces and the economy and truth the camera insists on."

Knighted in 2001, the thrice-married father of four shows no signs of slowing down - though there are hints this notoriously intense actor may be lightening up.

For proof, check out his next role - as The Hood, the dastardly villain in the upcoming film version of Thunderbirds.

Sir Ben: Knighthood beats Oscar
19 Mar 02  |  Entertainment


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