Who is Ben Kingsley?
Sir Ben Kingsley is an English actor. He has received many accolades throughout his long career, which spans over five decades at this point. He has received an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a British Academy Film Award. He was also appointed Knight Bachelor in 2002 for his services to the British film industry. In 2010 he was also awarded a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2013 he also received the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.
Early Life Before Fame
Ben was originally born called Krishna Pandit Bhanji in Stanton, North Riding of Yorkshire. His mother, Anna Lyna Mary, was an English model and actress, and she was born out of wedlock, and she was loath to speak of her background. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was born in the East Africa Protectorate (Known as the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya since 1920) to a family from the Indian city of Jamnagar, of Khoja Gujarati descent. Ben’s paternal grandfather, Harji Bhanji, was a spice trader who moved from India to the Sultanate of Zanzibar, where Kingsley’s father lived until he moved to the US at the age of 14.
Ben grew up mainly in the Pendlebury region of Lancashire. Although his father practiced Isma’ili Islam, Ben himself didn’t follow his father’s faith and identified himself as a Quaker. He went to school at the Manchester Grammar School, where he also met fellow actor Robert Powell.
He would then go to study acting at De La Salle College in Salford. While there, he also started to act professionally and had his stage debut upon graduation aged 23.
For his first appearance in a popular play, he appeared in As You Liked It at the Aldwych Theatre in 1967. He would also appear in a production of RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
In the 1960s, he would anglicize his name to Ben Kingsley, fearing that his foreign name would hamper his career as an actor otherwise. He said in a Radio Times interview that after changing his name, he immediately got various jobs, even at an audition where he had already auditioned for with his previous name, but after trying once more with the new one, he immediately got the part.
Kingsley then transitioned to film and television roles during the eighties.
He would appear in Gandhi (1982), directed by Richard Attenborough, where he played the titular role of Gandhi.
He would also go on to appear in the historical Steven Spielberg’s drama Schindler’s List (1993), where he portrayed the Holocaust survivor Itzhak Stern with fellow actor Liam Neesom portraying Oskar Schindler.
The film was a universal and critical success, from which Kingsley also received a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination.
He has been married four times and has had four children throughout his life. He also appeared in the 2013 production of The Children’s Monologues.
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