Ben Kingsley talks Shakespeare, flaws and lookalikes


1st Jan 2015 Celebrities

Ben Kingsley talks Shakespeare, flaws and lookalikes

Ben Kingsley has been acting for over 40 years in a career that has seen him star in such iconic films as Shutter Island, Schindler's List, Gandhi and Sexy Beast. He spoke to us about his loves, life, and inspiration.

On his approach to acting

Ben Kingsley
Image via Tracking Board

"They’re not self-portraits. They have my voice and my body, but I’m as distanced from my characters as a painter is from a portrait he’s painting of you."


On the importance of the dramatic arts

"I try to tell stories in a way that’s compelling, and as honest and truthful as possible. Shakespeare said, “To hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature.' Its purpose is to show us who we are, which is a great opportunity. It’s one that I work very hard to honour and respect."


On the acting hierarchy

"The crossover between film and television is almost invisible. Television is now a hugely powerful and hugely respected window for great historic and costume dramas."


On character Darwan Singh

Darwan Singh
Starring in Learning to Drive opposite Patricia Clarkson. Image via WNYC

"I found his [Darwan Singh, who Kinsley played in Learning to Drive] decency very appealing. Very often on screen you find that the interesting parts of a character are his or her flaws… their selfishness or some nasty urge inside them. I found Darwan profoundly decent and that’s very refreshing to put that on the screen."


On being star-spotted at six years old

"The physical resemblance between me and Peppino [the character in Never Take No For An Answer] is extraordinary… the cinema manager spotted me in the audience and yelled out, “The star of the film is in the audience!” It was quite traumatic, in a very benign sense."


On family connection

"My grandfather was a great spice trader in East Africa. He died way before I was born—I only have lovely sepia photographs of him and stories. Clearly he was a great man. He was called King Clove, so Kingsley comes from that and Ben comes from my dad’s nickname, Benji."


On his wife’s acting prowess

ben kingsley
On the red carpet with wife Daniela Lavender

"She’s Brazilian but she learnt and perfected an amazing Punjabi accent. Many Indian colleagues who know her said, “I didn’t realise that was Danni, I thought it was an Indian actress.” It was so lovely to work with her."


On Sikhs

"There’s something about the wonderful cast of Sikhs that I find my archetypal need to connect with… I don’t know whether my DNA makes me more empathetic or less. I’m sure that there are people with similar DNA to mine who are non-empathetic."


On growing as a person

"The breaking of old patterns is probably one of the hardest tasks in life. It’s also dependent on fortune, circumstance, the company we’re allowed to keep and the people we learn to avoid early on. As soon as you’ve broken one old pattern you realise there’s another one you need to break. And another, and another. It’s a wonderful lifetime’s work if you’re engaged with it."


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Feature image via The Talk