Date of Birth : Dec 31st 1943
British actor. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, the son of Ann Lyna Mary (née Goodman), an actress and model, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, a medical doctor. Kingsley’s father, an Ismaili Muslim, was born in Kenya of Indian Khoja Gujarati descent, as Kingsley’s paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley’s father lived until moving to England at the age of fourteen. Kingsley’s mother, born out of wedlock, was “loath to speak of her background”; she was of partial Russian Jewish descent, though Kingsley has said that he is “not absolutely certain” about his maternal ancestry.
Kingsley grew up in Pendlebury, Salford, where he studied at University of Salford. He then moved to Lancashire, where he studied at Pendleton College, which later became home to the Ben Kingsley Theatre. Kingsley began his acting career on the stage at Manchester Grammar School, alongside Robert Powell, but made a transition to film roles early on. Despite this focus on film, he continued to act on the stage, playing Mosca in Peter Hall’s 1977 production of Ben Jonson’s Volpone for the Royal National Theatre. It was at this time in his life that he changed his name from Krishna Bhanji to Ben Kingsley, fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career.
Kingsley’s first film role was a supporting turn in Fear Is the Key, released in 1972. Kingsley continued starring in bit roles in both film and television, including a bit part on the soap opera Coronation Street and regular appearances as a defence counsel in the long-running British legal programme Crown Court. He found fame only years later, starring as Mohandas Gandhi in the Academy Award-winning film Gandhi in 1982, his best-known role to date. The audience also agreed with the critics, and Gandhi was a box-office success. Kingsley won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.
Kingsley has since appeared in a variety of roles. His credits included the films Turtle Diary, Maurice, Pascali’s Island, Without a Clue (as Dr. Watson alongside Michael Caine’s Sherlock Holmes), Suspect Zero, Bugsy–which led to an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Sneakers, Dave, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Schindler’s List, Silas Marner, Death and the Maiden, Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, Sexy Beast, for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and House of Sand and Fog, which led to yet another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He won a Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2001.
In 1997, he provided voice talent for the video game Ceremony of Innocence. In July 2006, he received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the made-for-TV film Mrs. Harris, in which he played famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower, who was murdered by his jilted lover, Jean Harris. In 2007, Kingsley appeared as a Polish American mobster in the Mafia comedy You Kill Me, and was also slated to act out a Middle East oil minister to be assassinated in War, Inc.. An Indian Express story reported that Kingsley would appear as the “sex guru” Osho in a film, of then-unknown title, due to be released in 2008..
Kingsley was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. He was knighted in the 2001 New Years Honours list. On promotional material for the 2006 film Lucky Number Slevin, Kingsley was referred to as “Sir Ben Kingsley.” At first, the actor was singled out for some criticism, as such titles had generally come to be omitted from professional credits by that time. It was claimed that the inclusion of “Sir” was a mistake by a studio executive.
Kingsley had four children as of the summer of 2007: Thomas Bhanji and Jasmine Bhanji by actress Angela Morant, and Edmund Kingsley and Ferdinand Kingsley by theatrical director Alison Sutcliffe, both of whom became actors themselves. In 2005 he divorced German-born Alexandra Christmann, after pictures of her kissing another lover surfaced on the internet. He currently lives in Spelsbury, England, where he has lived for over ten years.
On September 3, 2007, Kingsley married Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro, a Brazilian actress, in North Leigh, Oxfordshire.