Ben Kingsley – Real Name, Royal Shakespeare Company & ‘Gandhi’

A highly prolific performer, Sir Ben Kingsley is an Academy Award-winning actor known for his work in films like ‘Gandhi,’ ‘Bugsy,’ ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘House of Sand and Fog,’ ‘Sexy Beast’ and ‘Hugo,’ among many others.

Who Is Ben Kingsley?

Born on December 31, 1943, in Snainton, England, Khrishna Bhanji switched his name to Ben Kingsley and developed a stage career with the Royal Shakespeare Company. After branching out to screen projects as well, he shot to prominence in the highly acclaimed film Gandhi, for which he won an Oscar. Kingsley has since acted in a wide array of projects including Bugsy, Dave, Twelfth Night, Sexy Beast, The House of Sand and Fog, Hugo, Iron Man 3 and The Jungle Book, showcasing his rich range and winning a host of additional Oscar nominations and accolades. He was knighted in 2002. 

Movies, TV and Stage Work


During the mid-’70s, Kingsley worked with the National Theatre. He subsequently returned to the RSC, where he originated the role of Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby. When the production traveled to Broadway, Kingsley was unable to reprise the role due to film commitments. His career soared to new heights in 1981 with the title role in Richard Attenborough’s acclaimed biopic Gandhi, telling the life story of the iconic, revered leader of India’s independence movement. In only his second accredited big-screen film, Kingsley won numerous accolades for his performance, including an Academy Award for Best Actor.

‘Betrayal,’ ‘Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story’

Kingsley appeared in several more European films, notably a 1983 adaptation of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, co-starring Jeremy Irons, and James Ivory’s Maurice (1987). He also made his Broadway return in the one-man show Edmund Kean (1984) before making his U.S. film debut in Without a Clue (1988), playing the capable Dr. Watson to Michael Caine’s bumbling Sherlock Holmes. The film was an unusually comic choice for Kingsley and was met with mixed reviews. In 1989 he again ventured into historical biopic territory, earning critical praise for his performance in the title role of the HBO feature Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story as the famed Holocaust survivor who steadfastly sought vengeance against the Nazis.

Kingsley has not slowed down and continues to take on an array of roles, with some projects more well-received than others. He co-starred in big-screen outings like The Last Legion (2007), The Wackness (2008), Journey to Mecca (2009) and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010). He also worked with iconic director Martin Scorsese on two projects: the thriller Shutter Island (2010) and the family film Hugo (2011), a charming, fantastic work that earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, winning several awards in other categories. In Hugo, Kingsley portrayed film trailblazer Georges Méliès, known for fare like 1902’s A Trip to the Moon.      

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