Oscar Actors: Kingsley, Ben

Ben Kingsley plays Grinko in Brad Anderson’s new suspense thriller, “Transsiberian.”

After earning an Oscar, two Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards for his riveting portrayal of Indian social leader Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Ben Kingsley continues to bring unequaled detail and nuance to each role.

In 1984, Kingsley was awarded the Padma Sri by Indira Gandhi and the government of India. Kingsley went on to earn three additional Oscar nominations for Bugsy (1991), Sexy Beast (2000) and House of Sand and Fog (2003), his roles have been as diverse as his talents, from a sturdy vice president in Dave to the scheming Fagin in Oliver Twist.

Since being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year’s Eve Honors List 2001, Kingsley has continued to earn honors as a truly international star.

Two films recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival give further perspective to his work: The Wackness, in which he plays a drug-addled psychiatrist opposite Josh Peck, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby and Mary-Kate Olsen; and the crime thriller Transsiberian, as a mysterious traveler opposite Woody Harrelson, Eduardo Noriega and Thomas Kretschmann. He is the star of the sexually charged Elegy which will premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

Kingsley verifies his comedic chops opposite Mike Meyers, Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake in Paramount’s The Love Guru, slated for Summer 2008. Two other completed films include Man on the Run, a thriller set against the dangerous backdrop of 1980s Ireland, and the more lighthearted crime comedy War, Inc.

Currently in production is Martin Scorsese’s 1950s drama Shutter Island, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams.

Steeped in British theatre, Kingsley marked the beginning of his professional acting career with his acceptance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in l967. From roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title roles in Othello and Hamlet, among others, his more recent and diverse stage roles include those in The Country Wife, The Cherry Orchard, A Betrothal and Waiting for Godot.

Kingsley’s film career began in l972 with the thriller Fear Is the Key, but his first major role came a decade later in the epic Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough. He followed this Oscar-winning performance with such early films as Betrayal, Turtle Diary, Harem, Pascalis Island, Without A Clue (as Dr. Watson to Michael Caines Sherlock Holmes) and The Children opposite Kim Novak. During the 90s Kingsley distinguished himself through such roles as Mayer Lansky in Bugsy, Sneakers, Searching For Bobby Fischer and Dave. In 1994 he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his memorable supporting role as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielbergs seven-time Oscar winner Schindlers List.

During the past decade, Ben Kingsley has remained a coveted and ubiquitous talent. Beginning with such films as Rules of Engagement, What Planet Are You From and an Oscar-nominated role as a brutal gangster in Sexy Beast, he received his most recent Oscar nomination in 2004 for his performance as a proud Iranian emigrant in the highly acclaimed House of Sand and Fog. Among his films in the last several years are Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist, the crime drama Lucky Number Slevin, John Dahl’s You Kill Me and the Roman empire saga The Last Legion.