Sir Ben Kingsley (seen here is an 1983 photo promoting "Gandhi") answered 10 questions from readers in the current issue of Time; on Time.com, they ran some extra questions. You can also listen to a podcast version. Here are some of them.
How would Gandhi play the role of Ben Kingsley? —Mills Chapman, VILLANOVA, PA.
He was an astonishingly quick and witty judge of character, so I bet he could have done a very good impersonation of me.
Why did you change your name (from Krishna Bhanji)? —Andrew Lawrence, FAIRFIELD, CONN.
It was a way of getting to my first audition. My dad [who is Indian] was completely behind it. My first name, Ben, is my dad's nickname. My second name, Kingsley, comes from my grandfather's nickname, which was King Clove. He was a spice trader. It's a bit late to change it back now.
How many years ago did you tire of answering questions about Gandhi? —Boris Bozic in Sydney, Australia
The reason I'm asked about it is not because it's a memory, but because people are seeing it every week. It's like a new experience for so many kids at school. It's quite wonderful. I don't think I'm going to get tired of answering questions about it because the questions are so good. It's great being an actor: You have so many opportunities to touch people.
Have you ever felt compelled to pursue any political issues? —Ross Davenport, PERTH, AUSTRALIA
I'm only strong as a storyteller. I'm not strong as a politician. Hopefully, with my journeys around the world, having visited the Pakistan earthquake zone, a girls' school in Afghanistan and some refugee camps in the Palestinian areas, then I'll be stronger as an actor at choosing the right kind of material.
How did playing the role of Gandhi influence you? —Ashish Daga in Chennai, India
It was a great quest. I know that [director Richard] Attenborough had been attempting to do it for 20 years. I'm thrilled that it's still present in so many people's lives. I meet people here in New York who said 'I saw it last week.' They're not delving back into memory; it's never on the video shows. Millions of people are watching it somewhere everyday. It's thrilling, especially now. It's very dangerous times that we live in. I was with great people making that film. It was my first major feature film, my first leading role on screen, and I was surrounded by passionate people. I was surrounded by Indians who were passionate that this story should be told correctly and beautifully. It was humbling and an enormous responsibility. I think it stretched a lot of my muscles and I hope they haven't shrunk back yet.
What's on your iPod these days? —Rob Liston in Hamilton, Ontario
It's very, very mixed. There's Bulgarian music, there's songs from Pakistan. I switch from track to track depending on what my particular mood needs. It's very broad. There's music from the Middle East, from the Ottoman Empire, from India and there's some very English stuff as well. There's some of the stuff my sons send me that I put on there. I've got a good musical ear, so I can listen to most things.
See the rest of the questions, including: "I know we're supposed to ask serious,
boring questions, but I'll try my luck: If you could be reborn as an
ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
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