The genius of Ben Kingsley

Recently I re-watched one of my all-time favourites of Kingsley’s movies “Sexy Beast”. This film is a gem.

He plays tense, psychotic London gangster “Don”. It is the character people will always compare to his most famous role as Ghandi if only to demonstrate the sheer range of the guy, but for me the true genius of Kingsley is his fierce intelligence and originality – how he has a knack for making performances so memorable. The video above is a great watch. I liked his account of Martin Scorsese’s working methods. That he trusts his actors to deliver, giving them the space to contribute, to work the scene themselves, without stuff being constantly telegraphed to them from the side of the set.

As it happens, Sexy Beast is directed by Jonathan Glazer, who came up through the music video ranks in the UK. Some of his earlier work, commercials, are unique experiences as well which stay with me. Sexy Beast is just so thoroughly enjoyable and everyone should give it a watch if they haven’t already. Also Under The Skin with Scarlett Johansson is another of his avant-garde voyage of discoveries – a really odd art-house style film to watch, not as crowd pleasing as Sexy Beast but still very memorable, nightmarish and original. Glazer had Johansson drive around Glasgow in a white van picking up prey (real men folk) on the streets, improvising with these unsuspecting members of the public, weaving them into the movie. It feels so real and believable because it is. They had no inkling or suggestion that they were being filmed in the van, or were in a film, other than the fact that the attractive driver looked unerringly like Scarlett Johansson. Glazer also directed the music video for Radiohead’s Karma Police.

Kingsley’s turn in Sexy Beast is available to watch on Amazon prime here.