skip navigation
Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (1)

Recent DVDs

Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's... Draco the dragon (Ben Kingsley) and a young knight (Julian Morris) whose life he... more info $11.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Boxtrolls ... The Boxtrolls (2014) - DVD - A young boy named Eggs lives with an unique group... more info $11.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Testimony: Tony Palmer's Story... Testimony is one of those comparatively rare events nowadays - a real piece of... more info $19.95was $29.99 Buy Now

What Planet Are You from ... Garry Shandling, Greg Kinnear, Annette Bening. An alien comes to Earth to... more info $8.95was $9.99 Buy Now

Wackness ... Blu Ray pressing. New York, summer 1994, the greatest year in Hip Hop, a... more info $11.95was $14.99 Buy Now

Playing Shakespeare ... Anyone who has ever appreciated Shakespeare will find startling new insights in... more info $36.95was $79.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Krishna Bhanji, Sir Ben Kingsley Died:
Born: December 31, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Yorkshire, England, GB Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

ley a wealth of critical acclaim and his second Academy Award nomination as Best Actor, along with Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations.Few moviegoers turned out to see Kingsley's 2004 follow-up, a live-action adaptation of the puppet-driven sci-fi series from Britain, "Thunderbirds" (1964-66) with Sir Ben as the villainous The Hood. The actor admitted he took the part because he needed a sillier role after the heaviness of "House of Sand and Fog" and had fond memories of watching hours of the cult hit TV show with his children. Next the actor essayed the titular serial killer who murders serial killers in the atmospheric thriller "Suspect Zero" (2004). Kingsley was game for another over-the-top performance in "A Sound of Thunder" (2005), a futuristic thriller about the dangers of using time travel for fun and profit. In a more serious vein, Kingsley reunited with Roman Polanski to play the manipulative street urchin mentor Fagin in an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, "Oliver Twist" (2005). Of note was the fact that Kingsley's Fagin was a more dimensional depiction than usual; instead of portraying him solely as an out-and-out evil exploiter of homeless children, Kingsley...

ley a wealth of critical acclaim and his second Academy Award nomination as Best Actor, along with Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations.

Few moviegoers turned out to see Kingsley's 2004 follow-up, a live-action adaptation of the puppet-driven sci-fi series from Britain, "Thunderbirds" (1964-66) with Sir Ben as the villainous The Hood. The actor admitted he took the part because he needed a sillier role after the heaviness of "House of Sand and Fog" and had fond memories of watching hours of the cult hit TV show with his children. Next the actor essayed the titular serial killer who murders serial killers in the atmospheric thriller "Suspect Zero" (2004). Kingsley was game for another over-the-top performance in "A Sound of Thunder" (2005), a futuristic thriller about the dangers of using time travel for fun and profit. In a more serious vein, Kingsley reunited with Roman Polanski to play the manipulative street urchin mentor Fagin in an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, "Oliver Twist" (2005). Of note was the fact that Kingsley's Fagin was a more dimensional depiction than usual; instead of portraying him solely as an out-and-out evil exploiter of homeless children, Kingsley and Polanski delivered a Fagin that, although he was profiting off of the his band of pickpockets, he was also somewhat kind to them and offered them at least some sort of purpose and community that they might otherwise not have known.

Once again reverting to schlocky fare, Kingsley played an evil vampire being hunted by a half-human, half-vampire (Kristanna Loken) in Uwe Boll's "BloodRayne" (2006). In the stylish noir thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006), Kingsley was a New York City crime boss named The Rabbi engaging in a war with a rival, The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Returning to more highly regarded work, Kingsley starred in "Mrs. Harris" (HBO, 2006), playing the real-life Dr. Herman Tarnower, the famed cardiologist and creator of the Scarsdale Diet who was shot to death by his lover, Jean Harris (Annette Bening). Kingsley earned himself a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television. Continuing his prolific streak in 2007, Kingsley appeared as a Polish-American gangster in "You Kill Me," a mafia comedy-thriller directed by John Dahl. That same year, Kingsley played dual roles as Ambrosinus and Merlin in the Arthurian epic "The Last Legion."

In a refreshing change of pace, Kingsley's next project had him tackling broad comedy as a wise sex guru named Maharishi Tugginmypudha in Mike Myers' "The Love Guru" (2008). After playing an inquisitive Russian narcotics officer in the international thriller "Transsiberian" (2008), Kingsley was the lead psychiatrist at a hospital for the criminally insane in Martin Scorsese¿s creepy "Shutter Island" (2010), starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of a patient. He next had a supporting role as the uncle of an adopted orphan (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the big-budget "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" (2010), before portraying pioneering silent film director George Méliès in Scorsese¿s Oscar-nominated family adventure "Hugo" (2011). Kingsley followed that by co-starring with Sacha Baron Cohen in the comedy "The Dictator" (2012), where he played the traitorous uncle of Cohen¿s titular head of state. The veteran actor clearly had fun playing a multifaceted villain in the superhero blockbuster "Iron Man 3" (2013), and starred in the straight-to-video action movie "A Common Man" (2013) before portraying half-Maori war veteran Mazer Rackham in the sci-fi film "Ender's Game" (2013). Kingsley next co-starred in the indie drama "War Story" (2014) opposite Catherine Kenner, and played a Sikh driving instructor in Manhattan in the romantic drama "Learning To Drive" (2014) opposite Patricia Clarkson. Kingsley returned to lighter fare with a leading voice role in the animated hit "The Boxtrolls" (2014) and a supporting role in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" (2014). The following year, he portrayed studio head Jack Warner in Anton Corbijn's atmospheric period piece "Life" (2015).

ences to become a worldwide hit, earning nearly $53 million in the U.S. alone. Critics were equally impressed. For his efforts, Kingsley was justly honored with the 1982 Academy Award for Best Actor.

Unfortunately, "Gandhi" also succeeded in typecasting Kingsley for years to come. Often called upon to carry the moral weight of his films, Kingsley's post-"Gandhi" roles consisted mainly of playing effete intellectuals and non-threatening good guys in such films as "Turtle Diary" (1985), "Harem" (1985) and the Sherlock Holmes reimagination "Without a Clue" (1988). Fortunately, Kingsley would make a welcome return to the mainstream in 1991 with an excellent supporting turn in "Bugsy." Cast as paternal mobster Meyer Lansky, Kingsley served as the film's voice of reason to Warren Beatty's mercurial, hot-headed Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. While his portrayal of Lansky would earn Kingsley his second Oscar nod ¿ this time for Best Supporting Actor ¿ his most impressive performance post-"Gandhi" came in Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning Best Picture, "Schindler's List" (1993). Disappearing with subtlety and strength into his role of Itzhak Stern, the clever Jewish accountant who was the brains behind the empire of industrialist, Oskar Schindler, Kingsley's interplay with Liam Neeson as Schindler personified the warmth of a relationship that was a rare point of sanity in an insane world.

Later that year, Kingsley popped up as an ambitious vice president in the Ivan Reitman comedy, "Dave" (1993), and as the chess master Bruce Pandolfini in Steve Zaillian's "Searching for Bobby Fisher" (1993). Kingsley was especially potent the following year in director Roman Polanski's atmospheric and absorbing film "Death and the Maiden" (1994). A three-character story set in an unspecified South American country, the film starred Sigourney Weaver as a former kidnap victim who encounters her torturer (Kingsley) a decade later after he innocently gives her stranded husband a lift home. After a stab at sci-fi in "Species" (1995), Kingsley returned to the classics as Feste in Trevor Nunn's "Twelfth Night" (1996) before helping train Aidan Quinn to pursue Carlos the Jackal (also played by Quinn) in Christian Duguay's "The Assignment" (1997). Unlike most actors of his caliber, Kingsley rarely shied away from the small screen. Calling television an excellent and nurturing environment for the serious British performer, Kingsley debuted on American screens as Armand's crusty father in "Camille" (CBS, 1984) and followed with the acclaimed miniseries "Oxbridge Blues" (A&E, 1986). He also starred in the excellent British import "Silas Marner" which aired on the PBS series, "Great Performances" in 1987. Kingsley's proudest small screen moment, however, was probably his outstanding portrayal of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story" (HBO, 1989).

Although his performances were always admired by critics, audiences, and especially his fellow actors, Kingsley's turn as Don Logan in "Sexy Beast" reintroduced him to a whole new generation of moviegoers. Moving like a stealth panther through every one of his scenes, Kingsley imbued a sense of virile menace to his jewel thief character and especially shone in his scenes opposite co-star Ray Winstone. Kingsley would deliver yet another masterful, career-defining performance in "House of Sand and Fog" (2003), playing an expatriate Iranian colonel who is forced to battle his conscience and the ghosts of his past. The film's tragic twists and turns provided Kingsley with one of his most complex and nuanced film performances, expertly essaying both the flawed and noble characteristics of his character. "House of Sand and Fog" earned Kings

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Ordinary Man, An (2017)
2.
 Jungle Book, The (2016)
3.
 Knight of Cups (2016)
5.
6.
 Self/Less (2015)
7.
 Walk, The (2015)
8.
 Boxtrolls, The (2014)
9.
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1964:
Turned down by Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, accepted into the Children's Theatre
1966:
Cast as Ron Jenkins on the British soap opera "Coronation Street" (ITV)
1967:
Became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
:
Moved to the Royal Court Theater in London in the early 1970s
1970:
Cast in Peter Brook's acclaimed production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
1973:
Made film debut in "Fear is the Key"
1975:
Appeared in the BBC miniseries "The Love School"
1977:
Played Mosca in Peter Hall's production of Ben Jonson's "Volpone" for the Royal National Theatre
1979:
Originated the role of Squeers in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of "Nicholas Nickleby"; unable to reprise role on Broadway due to film commitments
1983:
Acted in the film version of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal"
1984:
Starred in first TV-movie, "Camille" (CBS)
1984:
Debuted on Broadway in the one-man show "Edmund Kean"
1985:
Re-teamed with screenwriter Pinter (opposite Glenda Jackson) for John Irvin's "Turtle Diary"
1987:
Starred as Russian composer Dimitri Shostokovitch in "Testimony"
1988:
Acted opposite Helen Mirren in James Dearden's "Pascali's Island"
1989:
Essayed the title role of "Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story" (HBO)
1991:
Narrated Showtime's "The Tiger and the Brahmin"
1992:
Delivered villainous turn as Cosmo in the high-tech thriller "Sneakers"
1994:
Portrayed a physician who once tortured Sigourney Weaver in Roman Polanski's "Death and the Maiden"
1995:
Cast in the Emmy Award winning TNT miniseries, "Joseph"
1996:
Played the title role in the TNT miniseries "Moses"
1997:
Appeared as Estragon in a West End stage production of "Waiting for Godot"
1997:
Starred as Mossad commander Amos in Christian Duguay's "The Assignment"
1998:
Portrayed the titular Demon Barber in Showtime's "The Tale of Sweeney Todd"
1998:
Appeared in the NBC telefilm "Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'" as Magistrate Porfiry
1999:
Acted the part of Major Caterpillar in NBC's movie adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland"
2000:
Landed supporting role in "What Planet Are You From?"
2000:
Appeared as the Yemeni ambassador in "Rules of Engagement"
2001:
Played Otto Frank in the ABC miniseries "Anne Frank"; received Emmy nomination
2001:
Co-starred with Fiona Shaw and Mira Sorvino in "The Triumph of Love"
2002:
Cast in the family drama "Tuck Everlasting"
2004:
Cast as The Hood in "Thunderbirds," based on the cult British television show from the 1960s
2004:
Starred opposite Aaron Eckhart in the thriller "Suspect Zero"
2005:
Cast as pickpocket kingpin Fagin in Roman Polanski's adaptation of "Oliver Twist"
2006:
Played 'The Rabbi,' a crime boss after Josh Hartnett in the thriller "Lucky Number Slevin"
2006:
Played famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower who was murdered by his jilted lover Jean Harris (Annette Bening) in the HBO movie "Mrs. Harris"
2007:
Played an alcoholic hit man in the dark comedy "You Kill Me"
2008:
Co-starred with Famke Janssen and Josh Peck in "The Wackness"
2008:
Co-starred opposite Penélope Cruz in "Elegy"
2010:
Co-starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time"
2011:
Cast in the family adventure "Hugo"; again directed by Scorsese
2012:
Acted opposite Sacha Baron Cohen in political satire "The Dictator"
2013:
Featured in "Iron Man 3"
2013:
Appeared in the sci-fi movie "Ender's Game"
:
Co-starred opposite Catherine Keener in "War Story"
2014:
Starred opposite Patricia Clarkson in indie drama "Learning to Drive"
2014:
Co-starred in Ridley Scott's Biblical epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
2015:
Co-starred as studio head Jack Warner in Anton Corbijn's "Life"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Salford: -
Pendleton College: -
Manchester Grammar School: Fallowfield , Manchester -

Notes

Named chairman of jury at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival.

Awarded knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Eve honors 2001.

"I don't want to do theater work until people stop saying, and apologize to us cinema actors for saying, and assuming, that we should really go back to the theater, because actually it is more noble. The more they say that, the more I will say I'm not going to do theater for a while. It's patronizing bunk." --Ben Kingsley in Daily News, July 6, 1995.

"People think if you play a man like Gandhi, somehow it rubs off on you. They were convinced I must have evolved spiritually when I did that film. I didn't. I worked my socks off, learned my lines, lost alot of weight and acquired probably the most eccentric set of mannerisms ever see on screen. I had no time to evolve spiritually." --Ben Kingsley to Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1996..

"The role of an actor is to constantly remind us of our humanity"---Kingsley to Premiere December 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Angela Morant. Actor. Married in 1966; divorced in 1972; mother of Kingsley's two older children.
wife:
Alison Sutcliffe. Theater director. Born c. 1946; married on July 1, 1978; separated c. 1992; divorced; worked with her on developing his one-man stage show "Edmund Kean"; mother of Kingsley's two younger sons.
companion:
Kate Townsend. Living together since 1993.
wife:
Alexandra Christmann. Model. Born c. 1975; married in Fall 2003.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji. Physician. Of Indian extraction; born in Kenya; while attending college had been nicknamed "Ben"; Kingsley's first name is a tribute to his father.
mother:
Anna Lyna Mary Bhanji. Fashion model, actor. Of English extraction.
son:
Thomas Kingsley. Mother, Angela Morant.
daughter:
Jasmine Kingsley. Mother, Angela Morant.
son:
Edmund Kingsley. Born in July 1982, mother, Alison Sutcliffe; attending RADA as of 2000.
son:
Ferdinand Kingsley. Mother, Alison Sutcliffe.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute