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 Ten Questions for Sir Ben Kingsley

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Fagin
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PostSubject: Ten Questions for Sir Ben Kingsley   Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:00 pm

On August 2nd, 2007, the well-known magazine TIME published 10 questions and answers which the general public had asked Sir Ben.

Q - Which of your roles has been the closest to the real you?
A - I would say recently Elegy, with Penélope Cruz, and also Turtle Diary. But my mom would say "Oh, House of Sand and Fog, that's my boy." Those roles are like walking a tightrope. I could lose my balance and topple back into me so easily.

Q - What do you look for in a role?
A - I look for the echo inside me. Maybe we're all born with our future coiled up inside us like a spring, and we just unravel this coiled spring and work it out. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit bizarre. I'm trying so hard not to be pretentious because I'm always called pompous and pretentious.

Q - What were you thinking when you accepted a role in Bloodrayne? —It's hard to imagine someone so gifted not realizing what a terrible film that would be!
A - I don't know whether to be upset or flattered by that question. To be honest, I have always wanted to play a vampire, with the teeth and the long black cape. Let's say that my motives were somewhat immature for doing it.

Q - How would Gandhi play the role of Ben Kingsley?
A - He was an astonishingly quick and witty judge of character, so I bet he could have done a very good impersonation of me.

Q - Would you change anything about your acting career?

A - No. It's a bit like The Butterfly Effect, that amazing science-fiction novel, where if you go back and alter one molecule of your past, the present that you're enjoying will disintegrate.

Q - Have you ever felt compelled to pursue any political issues?
A - I'm only strong as a storyteller. I'm not strong as a politician. Hopefully, with my journeys around the world, having visited the Pakistan earthquake zone, a girls' school in Afghanistan and some refugee camps in the Palestinian areas, then I'll be stronger as an actor at choosing the right kind of material.

Q - What comes with the title of knight? Does it mean you get a better table in restaurants?
A - [Laughs.] They're a bit uncomfortable about success, the Brits. But when you think you're being totally ignored by England, they suddenly say 'You now belong to the nation.'" You become a bit of an ambassador. It gives me an opportunity to be taken as a true reflection of the British people and our concerns. If it gets me a better place at those tables, I want to be there.

Q - What is the difference between what makes a good movie in the U.S. and what makes a good movie in the U.K.?
A - It's that English eccentricity, that dry humor, that Hugh Grant is a genius at. What makes a good American movie is a certain kind of relaxed ease, a deep comfort in being American. In America, you're confident in your grandeur, your largesse and your ability to relax and flow.

Q - Why did you change your name (from Krishna Bhanji)?
A - It was a way of getting to my first audition. My dad [who is Indian] was completely behind it. My first name, Ben, is my dad's nickname. My second name, Kingsley, comes from my grandfather's nickname, which was King Clove. He was a spice trader. It's a bit late to change it back now.

Q - Do people ever confuse you with Patrick Stewart?
A - I was at the Royal Shakespeare Company sitting in the audience, and a girl who was maybe 11 came up to me and said, "I love you in Star Trek." And I'm sitting there thinking I'm the king of the world, and I said, "Actually, I'm Ben Kingsley." She looked completely blank and said, "Well, congratulations, you look like Patrick Stewart."

And here are the Extra Questions:

Q - I know we're supposed to ask serious, boring questions, but I'll try my luck: If you could be reborn as an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
A - I'd be pistachio. Definitely pistachio. I don't know why that's such a quick answer but honestly pistachio jumped at me. Maybe because I was asked to have an ice cream lat week in a movie I'm making here in New York and I said, 'could I have pistachio' and the prop guy said no. My face dropped. That would be on film, my sad face.

Q - What has been your favorite role so far?
A - That's difficult because I've been blessed by so many remarkable roles. I've been really, really fortunate so far. Elegy has not been screened yet; I just finished doing that with Penélope Cruz. But my favorite is House of Sand and Fog because it stirred something inside me. I still love the character; it's left its thumbprint on me. They don't always do that, but he did. There was something supremely dignified about him. He was committed to his family and culture, determined to make America his home, torn between the past and the future and unable to build a present for himself and his family. I loved him. I thought he was a great archetypal dad.

Q - How did you prepare for your demonical and mesmerizing role in Sexy Beast? Did it require several takes to get it right?
A - Mark, you're going to be really disappointed. I was stuck in L.A. in a film that went over and over and over, and I nearly lost Sexy Beast as a role because the company said, 'We can only wait for Kingsley for 12 more hours.' They finally got rid of me in L.A. I landed in Spain and the next day I did the film in the airport. It was pure, pure intuition. Of course I believe that as an actor I'm preparing all my life because I collect people. I collect memories, and I collect tiny traces of people: voices, walks, mannerisms. Having said that, I know that I was referring to people I've seen in my wider peripheral vision all my life. People who worked backstage in the London theatres I worked in as a young actor. I found them fascinating. Obviously I hung out with them because we all worked together. That London scene was very much part of my life as a young actor. It's just by osmosis. I soak it in all my life and then I have an opportunity to let it out and I realize, 'My God, I have been paying attention.'

Q - What one role in the history of film do you wish you could have played?
A - I think in another lifetime I would have loved to have been Spencer Tracy. I admire his stillness, his massive reserves of energy. The closest we have now is Tony Hopkins. Nearly all his movies, were in black and white and I love black and white. I would love to have been an actor in the black and white era.

Q - How did playing the role of Gandhi influence you?
A - It was a great quest. I know that [director Richard] Attenborough had been attempting to do it for 20 years. I'm thrilled that it's still present in so many people's lives. I meet people here in New York who said 'I saw it last week.' They're not delving back into memory; it's never on the video shows. Millions of people are watching it somewhere everyday. It's thrilling, especially now. It's very dangerous times that we live in. I was with great people making that film. It was my first major feature film, my first leading role on screen, and I was surrounded by passionate people. I was surrounded by Indians who were passionate that this story should be told correctly and beautifully. It was humbling and an enormous responsibility. I think it stretched a lot of my muscles and I hope they haven't shrunk back yet.

Q - How many years ago did you tire of answering questions about Gandhi?
A - The reason I'm asked about it is not because it's a memory, but because people are seeing it every week. It's like a new experience for so many kids at school. It's quite wonderful. I don't think I'm going to get tired of answering questions about it because the questions are so good. It's great being an actor: You have so many opportunities to touch people.

Q - What books are you reading at the moment?
A - I love historical accounts and I'm reading about the Battle of Jutland in 1916 between the German High Seas Fleet and the British Frand Fleet. It's the last of the great Armadas facing each other, and it never happened again. I love history. I'm fascinated by World War I, by how the whole map of Europe changed so radically between 1914 and 1918. It's never been the same since, and we're still struggling with those changes.

Q - What's on your iPod these days?
A - It's very, very mixed. There's Bulgarian music, there's songs from Pakistan. I switch from track to track depending on what my particular mood needs. It's very broad. There's music from the Middle East, from the Ottoman Empire, from India and there's some very English stuff as well. There's some of the stuff my sons send me that I put on there. I've got a good musical ear, so I can listen to most things.


To read the original article, or to listen to the audio version of the Interview, go to http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1649293,00.html


Article by Kate Stinchfield. Time.com


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fruhling

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PostSubject: Re: Ten Questions for Sir Ben Kingsley   Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:29 pm

Fagin wrote:
, from the Ottoman Empire,

I wasn't aware it was called that anymore...
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Paul

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PostSubject: Re: Ten Questions for Sir Ben Kingsley   Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:06 pm

Me neither. I like the part about the ice cream.
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