90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Actor Sir Ben Kingsley

From Gandhi to Sexy Beast, to filmmaker Georges Méliès in Hugo, acting great Sir Ben Kingsley is with us.

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Asa Butterfield portrays Hugo Cabret, left, and Ben Kingsley plays Georges Méliès in a scene from "Hugo." (AP)

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Asa Butterfield portrays Hugo Cabret, left, and Ben Kingsley plays Georges Méliès in a scene from "Hugo." (AP)

The great British actor Ben Kingsley – Sir Ben Kingsley – was born Krishna Bhanji in North Yorkshire, son of an Indian-descended doctor father and an actress and model English mother.  In an astonishing career on stage and screen, he has drawn on all that and much more.

To play Gandhi in his very first big screen role.  It won him an Oscar.  To play a hard-bitten Cockney criminal in Sexy Beast.  A haunted Iranian colonel in House of Sand and Fog.  A French film pioneer in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo.

This hour, On Point:  a conversation with stage and film great Ben Kingsley.

-Tom Ashbrook




Ben Kingsley, Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning actor, his latest film is “Hugo.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Huffington Post “It’s an apt time for Kingsley to launch his effort to return the movie industry to its storytelling roots, given that he stars in Martin Scorsese’s new 3D film “Hugo” as one of film’s original pioneers, Georges Méliès.”

Reuters “When he sits down, though, there’s nothing terribly stuffy or regal about the Oscar-winning actor who plays silent film pioneer Georges Melies in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.” Rather, Kingsley is affable, articulate and eager to talk about acting, storytelling and the director who, he says, sees everything on a movie set.”

The Daily MailThe shaven head and goatee are instantly familiar when Kingsley walks into the room, but despite his great fame nobody seems to know much about this intensely private 66-year-old. Not even his mother, as I am about to find out. For years he has deflected all personal enquiries, hiding behind his art, and that’s how he starts today.”

Video: Gandhi Trailer

Here’s the trailer from Kingsley’s 1982 film, Gandhi, an epic biography of the Indian lawyer who led a non-violent revolt against British rule. The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Kingsley won Best Actor for his portrayal of Gandhi.

Video: Hugo Trailer

Here is a short video trailer of Ben Kingsley’s latest movie, Hugo.



The Thief” (from Hugo) Howard Shore
“Discovery Of India” (from Gandhi) Ravi Shankar
“Coeur Volant” (from Hugo) Howard Shore

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Ben Kingsley is a genius, pure and simple. House of Sand and Fog stands out…

  • Tina

    Thank you, Sir Ben, for your wonderful Portrayals!  I would like to ask you about Britain’s actors and actresses compared to America’s.  The British actors I see on PBS, and occasionally in the movies, cover all age ranges and all levels of good to not-so-good looks; whereas, American actors and actresses are increasingly drop-dead gorgeous and within a slim age range, much slimmer for women.  I think the American fixation with good looks radically cuts down on the expressive and empathetic power of film and television drama. Do you agree?  Thank you!  

    Also, I chose the word “portrayals” rather than “performances” because you embody your characters!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Bell/651257150 John Bell

    Hugo was wildly imaginative.  The design was superb & the acting and direction was fantastic.  The story not so.  Disappointing that the conflict was just a bruised ego. 

    • Edj

      Interesting take on the plot but I felt the conflict was more profound. So timely also, as so many people’s lives are so deeply affected as their jobs/careers/artistry disappear or are devalued.  The despair seen in the amazing closeups of the toy shop owner brought to the screen the tragic feelings felt by millions.  Kingsley nailed it for me.   

  • Poulin

    Merchant of Venice and Schindler’s List were both unforgettable roles for me.  A true master actor.  Tom, thank you for ALWAYS choosing the most interesting subjects.  I moved to CA 2 years ago, but I still listen to your show via the Internet everyday. 

  • Audrasbooks

    My favorite – Sneakers…

  • Ysmpoulin

    My fantasy movie would be Kingsley playing Jiddu Khrishnamurti.  Hollwood, can you hear this?

  • Vijay

    My question for him is empathy and emotive connection are incredibly powerful aspects of film, ones that I feel often embody the “entertainment” qualification of film.  But with the seeming rise of 3D, and big budget Hollywood entertainment films….in the future can film use these qualities to uplift the human race rather then simply entertain?  Can documentaries illuminating great tragedies or unknown strife become the things we focus on rather than the next action sci-fi 3D sequel???

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Good stories, and good acting will survive in some way!  Remember that “Young Dr. Frankenstein”, and “Schindler’s List” were in black and white, decades AFTER color was the medium!


    Is there anyone that Sir Ben has worked with that have become life-long friends?  Is there anyone with whom he would never wish to work again? (Would he name names?)

  • Anonymous

    Fascinating discussion and Ben Kingsley is so articulate in describing the acting experience.  As a photographer I’ve always been interested in the acting process.  My question is how do you separate your own character while you are working on the one you are acting?  In your day to to day life and within the filming of the project.  Thank you, Anne

  • JW

    Ask him about being on The Sopranos. He was outstanding. How much of that was the “real him”?

  • Victoria

    Ben Kingsley did an amazing, oscar-worthy performance in Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden with Sigourney Weaver in 1994. He plays a character who is both dangerous and weak.

  • Ysmpoulin

    Sir Kingsley: Direct a Bio pick movie about Jiddu Khrishnamurti.  And, play him of course. 

  • Christopher Trindade

    I would have liked for him to talk about his role in The Whackness, and about his character Dr. Jeffery Squires. I want to know what his drive was as that character, because here’s a man who’s life has entered a state of constant monotony, him and his wife barely speak, he can’t quite relate to his daughter, and yet he takes special interest in his pot dealer, and he pushes him to try and better himself, and he lives through him and takes part in his dealings. And his life further deteriorates as his wife decides she wants a divorce, and so he attempts suicide in a number of different manners, all unsuccessful and at the end he decides to continue living. What drove this man to do all this? And how did he as an actor find this drive?

  • Tina

    Tom, That was a wonderful interview!  The balance and energy were both perfect!  And then, Sir Ben was so very generous when sharing  his profound thoughts on acting and on the interface of acting  with life lived.  A great hour!  

  • Naimesh Kotadia

    I was a young boy when I first watched the movie Gandhi, before that I just read about Gandhi. So even today when ever I think of Gandhi, the image of sir Ben Kingsley comes to my mind as Gandhi. Hats off to this magnificent actor and performer of our times. I really regret that I was not able to listen when this was aired yesterday and missed a chance to speak to sir Ben.

  • Tim Kotora

    What a noble, gentle, generous person Ben Kingsley is. Thanks for a great interview.

  • Pingback: Ancient Persian poetry through a vocoder « WijeratneWorks

  • Gabriel Boyers

    A special actor – a TRUE actor – who seems to become each character he portrays. One never has the sense that one is going to a film just to see Ben Kingsley do his shtick. He seems to fully erase himself from each role. A very, very scarce ability these days!

Sep 18, 2014
Flickr/Steve Rhodes

After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

Sep 18, 2014

Billionaires. We’ll look at the super super rich, and their global shaping of our world.

Sep 17, 2014
Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

Sep 17, 2014
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

The NFL’s Adrian Peterson and the emotional debate underway about how far is too far to go when it comes to disciplining children.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment