Ben Kingsley Biography

(English Actor Known for His Portrayal of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ in the Film ‘Gandhi’)

Birthday: December 31, 1943 (Capricorn)

Born In: Snainton, North Riding of Yorkshire, England

Ben Kingsley is a celebrated British actor with a career spanning over four decades. During his extensive career in films and TV, he has won multiple awards: an ‘Oscar,’ two ‘Golden Globes,’ ‘Grammy,’ ‘BAFTA,’ and ‘Screen Actors Guild Award.’ He is best known for his role as ‘Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’ in the 1982 film ‘Gandhi.’ For his role as the prolific Indian freedom fighter, he won an ‘Oscar’ for ‘Best Actor.’ The movie was only his second on the big screen; however, it propelled his career, drawing the attention of Hollywood’s best and the brightest. Over the years, Kingsley has shown his versatility by playing just about any role to perfection. From a Nazi war criminal in ‘Operation Finale’ to his celebrated role as a Holocaust survivor in ‘Schindler’s List,’ his movies have showcased his depth as an actor and have won the hearts of critics and filmgoers around the world. Kingsley is known to adamantly refuse similar roles in order to avoid being typecast and limits his releases to not more than one a year. He is also known to spend years preparing for a movie character, getting the details of his character right. For his services to the British film industry, he was appointed Knight Bachelor.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Sir Ben Kingsley, Krishna Pandit Bhanji

Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Angela Morant (m. 1966; div. 1976) Alison Sutcliffe

father: Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji

mother: Anna Lyna Mary Goodman

children: Edmund Kingsley, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jasmin Bhanji, Thomas Alexis Bhanji

Born Country: England

Actors British Men

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

Childhood & Early Life

Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Pandit Bhanji on December 31, 1943, in North Riding of Yorkshire, England. His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a medical doctor of Gujarati Indian descent. His mother, Anna Lyna Mary, was an actress and model who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s.

He attended ‘Manchester Grammar School,’ and was expected to go to medical school like his father and older brother. He subsequently went to ‘Pendleton College’ (which later became Ben Kingsley Theatre). While at ‘Pendleton College,’ he discovered his passion for acting, specifically theatre. In 1967, aged 23, he made his theatre debut at the ‘Aldwych Theatre.’

In late 1967, he joined the ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’ and immersed himself in the world of stage acting for the next 15 years. In 1971, he made his Broadway debut, playing a part in William Shakespeare's play ‘A Midsummer's Night Dream.’

Upon gaining fame as a stage actor, he changed his name to ‘Ben Kingsley,’ fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career.

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Ben Kingsley made the transition from theatre to the big screen in 1972 with a role in Michael Tuchner’s ‘Fear Is the Key’; a movie based on the 1961 novel by author Alistair MacLean.

Around the same time, he made several acting appearances in television as well. This includes regular appearances in the long-running British legal program ‘Crown Court’ where he played the part of a defense counsel.

In 1975, he starred as the distinguished British poet ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti’ in BBC’s historical drama production ‘The Love School.’ This drama series was very influential during its time and inspired modern-day series like ‘Desperate Romantics.’

Over the next decade, he played small roles in both TV and films. This includes an appearance in the TV miniseries ‘Dickens of London’ in 1976. It was during this time that he prepared for his most important role that would eventually propel his acting career to new heights.

In 1982, he played the role of ‘Mohandas Gandhi’ in the drama film ‘Gandhi.’ His performance as the lead character ‘Gandhi’ earned him international fame and recognition. For this role, he was honored with awards like the ‘Oscar’ for ‘Best Actor,’ ‘BAFTA,’ ‘Golden Globes,’ and ‘London Film Critics' Circle Awards’ to name a few. After the movie’s release, he was recognized as one of the finest British actors.

He didn’t let this success and fame get to him; he decided to be isolated for months on end to shield himself from glaring cameras and focus on preparing for roles ahead. His success as an actor continued as he appeared in many other celebrated movies like ‘Turtle Diary,’ ‘Maurice,’ and ‘Bugsy.’ For his performance in ‘Bugsy,’ he was nominated for the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ at the ‘Oscars.’

In 1993, he played the role of Holocaust survivor ‘Itzhak Stern’ in the critically acclaimed drama movie ‘Schindler's List.’ His vivid performance and life-like depiction of the character earned him a ‘BAFTA’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ The movie went on to win seven ‘Academy Awards,’ including ‘Best Picture.’

During the mid-1990s, he acted in various box office successes like ‘The Tale of Sweeney Todd,’ for which he was nominated for the ‘Screen Actors' Guild Award.’ In 1998, he was a member of the 48th ‘Berlin International Film Festival,’ serving as the head juror.

In 2000, he played the lead protagonist in the British crime film ‘Sexy Beast.’ This highly acclaimed movie has a cult fan following and is watched by avid movie buffs even today. For his role as ‘Don Logan,’ a recruiter for the London underworld, Kingsley received another ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’

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He then played ‘Otto Frank’ in the hit television movie ‘Anne Frank,’ which released in 2001. For his heart-wrenching portrayal of Anne Frank’s father, he received the ‘Screen Actors' Guild Award’ in 2002.

Throughout the 2000s, he made numerous appearances in movies and TV shows. In July 2006, he was nominated for an ‘Emmy’ for his performance in the documentary film ‘Mrs. Harris.’ His other works during this time include a guest appearance in ‘The Sopranos.’ He also played a Polish-American mobster in the comedy series ‘You Kill Me.’

In 2010, Ben Kingsley starred in acclaimed director Martin Scorsese’s thriller ‘Shutter Island.’ In this feature film, he is seen alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. He also starred in Scorsese's subsequent film ‘Hugo,’ and is known to be among the favorites of this prolific director.

In 2013, he appeared as a villain in the American super hero film ‘Iron Man 3.’ His deceptively good acting skills held the audience in suspense about the character’s true identify till the very end.

Apart from acting in movies and TV, he has also lent his voice for various animation films like ‘The Jungle Book.’ He also narrated Yogananda's ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ in book-on-tape format.

From 2017 to 2019, he appeared in many films like ‘Security,’ ‘An Ordinary Man,’ ‘Backstabbing for Beginners,’ ‘Operation Finale,’ ‘Night Hunter,’ ‘Spider in the Web,’ and ‘The Red Sea Diving Resort.’

Major Works

Ben Kingsley has acted in some of the 20th and 21st centuries’ most admired feature films. This includes his outstanding role in the biographical drama film ‘Gandhi.’ The movie released in the year 1982 and was applauded by critics and movie goers alike. The actor’s accurate depiction of Gandhi was appreciated by many. In the US, ‘Gandhi’ became the 12th highest-grossing film of the year, whereas in India it was the highest-grossing film at that time. For his role as Gandhi, Kingsley won an ‘Oscar’ for ‘Best Actor.’ His stunning performance is still remembered and revered by many movie buffs around the world.

The 2000 feature film ‘Sexy Beast’ is one of Kingsley’s most important works and still draws a huge cult following. The movie depicts brutal gangster ‘Don Logan’ (Kingsley) who recruits retired safe-cracker ‘Gal’ (Ray Winstone) for the heist of the century. However, things quickly go bad for the duo. Kingsley’s portrayal of gangster ‘Don Logan’ is expected to go down as one of the most memorable mobster roles in filmdom. The movie inspired director Guy Ritchie who went on to make movies like ‘Snatch’ and ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.’

Awards & Achievements

Ben Kingsley’s lifelike portrayal of ‘Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’ in the 1982 film ‘Gandhi’ won him an ‘Oscar Award’ for ‘Best Actor.’

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In 1984, he was awarded the fourth-highest Indian civilian honor ‘The Padma Shri’ for the impact his life has had on the Indian community. The same year, he won the ‘Grammy’ for ‘Best Spoken Word’ for ‘The Words of Gandhi.’

In May 2010, he was awarded a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame,’ alongside other Hollywood actors like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

In 2002, during the ‘New Year Honours’ ceremony, he was knighted as ‘Sir Ben Kingsley’ for his services to the British film industry. He later stated that “the Oscars pale in comparison to this great honor.”

In April 2013, he was honored with the ‘Fellowship Award’ at ‘The Asian Awards’ in London.

In 2015, he won the ‘Annie Award’ for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production’ for ‘The Boxtrolls.’

Personal Life

Ben Kingsley has been married four times and has four children. He is currently married to Brazilian actress Daniela Lavender, whom he married on 3 September 2007. The couple does not have any children together. The two are known for their extensive philanthropic work, especially work concerning children in third world countries.

He is an extremely solitary person and likes to keep his personal life private. He seldom appears for interviews and avoids red carpet events as much as possible.

His demand to be called 'Sir Ben' is well documented by the BBC, and has come under heavy criticism. At one point, the actor was very particular about including his title ‘Sir’ in film credits. However, he has altered his stance considerably since.


He got his stage name ‘Kingsley’ from his grandfather's nickname ‘Clove King.’

His father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was a Kenyan-born physician of Gujarati Indian descent. Interestingly, MK Gandhi was born in Gujarat.

He did not pay heed to the advice of music legends John Lennon and Ringo Starr, who told him to get into music. They also told him that not getting into music would be his biggest regret in life.

He has an honorary degree from the ‘University of Hull,’ Scarborough Campus.

Five days before he was called by Richard Attenborough for the role of ‘Gandhi,’ he had started reading a book on Gandhi.

He portrayed various stages of MK Gandhi’s life (between the ages 23 and 78) in the same movie.

Ben Kingsley Movies

1. Schindler's List (1993)

  (Biography, Drama, History)

2. Gandhi (1982)

  (Biography, History, Drama)

3. Shutter Island (2010)

  (Thriller, Mystery)

4. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

  (Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Drama)

5. Betrayal (1983)

  (Thriller, Drama)

6. House of Sand and Fog (2003)


7. Maurice (1987)

  (Romance, Drama)

8. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

  (Drama, Biography)

9. Hugo (2011)

  (Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Family, Drama, Adventure)

10. The Jungle Book (2016)

  (Adventure, Fantasy, Drama, Family)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
1983 Best Actor in a Leading Role Gandhi (1982)
Golden Globe Awards
1983 Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Gandhi (1982)
1983 New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Male Gandhi (1982)
BAFTA Awards
1983 Best Actor Gandhi (1982)
1983 Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Gandhi (1982)
Grammy Awards
1985 Best Spoken Word Album Winner

See the events in life of Ben Kingsley in Chronological Order

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