Sir Ben Kingsley

Sir Ben is a classical actor whose portrayal of Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's film earned him an Academy Award. Other films, from Schindler's List to Sexy Beast, demonstrate his incredible range and his wealth of experience.


Born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, Sir Ben is of Anglo-Indo-South African descent and is the son of a doctor.

Beginning in amateur theatre in Manchester, he made his professional debut at 23, appearing in London for the first time at the Aldwych theatre in 1967. He then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing mainly on the stage for the next 15 years. He made his Broadway debut with the RSC in 1971.

Director Richard Attenborough chose Sir Ben in 1982 to appear in the epic biopic, Gandhi. The 39-year old actor became the toast of the critics, winning a Best Actor Oscar.

Unwilling to be typecast, Kingsley took parts in films as varied as Harem, Turtle Diary, and Pascali's Island. He played the composer Shostakovich in Testimony in 1987, and Dr Watson, against Michael Caine's Sherlock Holmes, in 1988's Without A Clue.

His most visible roles in this period were in the Presidential romantic-comedy Dave, and in the spoof gangster film Bugsy. Kingsley also excelled as a Jewish bookkeeper in Schindler's List in 1993.

After doing an about-face, by playing a suspected Nazi war criminal in 1994's Death And The Maiden, Kingsley returned to Shakespeare for the 1996 film of Twelfth Night.

Back on the stage, Kingsley found great success on Broadway, with his one-man show Edward Kean, directed by his then-wife Alison Sutcliffe.

He gave a truly terrifying and gritty performance as a devious criminal in 2001's Sexy Beast opposite Ray Winstone, for which he received a Golden Globe and a third Oscar nomination. Revisiting the Holocaust theme, he appeared as Otto Frank in ABC's 2001 TV special Anne Frank: The Whole Story. His performance earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award and several other nominations.

Roles in AI: Artificial Intelligence, The Triumph of Love and Tuck Everlasting followed before Sir Ben attracted praise from critics once more with 2003 movie House Of Sand And Fog. He won a Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor and received another Academy Award nomination. Although Thunderbirds, Suspect Zero, A Sound Of Thunder and 2005's Oliver Twist kept him busy, they did not bring any more accolades.

However, this changed with Mrs Harris and BloodRayne, both of which were released in 2005 and led to nominations including one Sir Ben may not necessarily be proud of - a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor for the latter film. His star status saw him appear as himself in the award winning drama The Sopranos in 2006, which came before he received further critical acclaim for his part in You Kill Me (2007).

In 2008, Sir Ben picked up a London Film Critics' Circle Award for Best British Actor of the Year, but the achievement was negated by three more Raspberry Awards for his supporting roles in War, Inc., The Love Guru and The Wackness. However, a Scream Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as Dr. John Cawley in Shutter Island (2010) helped to soften the blow.

The box office success of Jerry Bruckheimer's sword-and-sorcery action film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time also helped Sir Ben to forget about the Razzies. Sir Ben later appeared as The Mandarin in Shane Black's Iron Man 3 in 2013, a role whose reinterpretation of the comics character divided fans.

With more than 100 titles to his name, Sir Ben was knighted in the New Years honour list of 2002. He has been married four times, the latest union being with actress Daniela Lavender, and has four children, two of whom have followed their father into the acting profession.