Ben Kingsley, You Kill Me
Deserves props for: Gandhi, Schindler's List, Sexy Beast, House of Sand and Fog and of course BloodRayne. In You Kill Me he plays an alcoholic hitman.
This is the first time you've played a romantic lead, at least in a comedy.
"I would say so, although I did have a great leading lady, Joanna Lumley, when I did Sweeney Todd. But we were a pretty horrible couple."
What was it like?
"Well, to have a romantic comedy partnered with T�a Leoni for me was gold. I keep saying this, but she's like Katharine Hepburn. She has that same lightness and dexterity and accuracy and musicality. You can only be as good as the person you're playing with. It's like a duet."
You've said you love doing comedies, which you're not chiefly known for.
"No, I'm not. I did a lot onstage before I became a cinema actor. More and more now my comedic side is being used on film, and I'm very happy about that. It's challenging. You rely entirely on the pace of the director and the timing of your fellow actors. And you can pursue a dramatic line of the character. Even if the director's not quite on the same page, or your fellow actors keep falling asleep around you as you're boring them, you can maintain a dramatic line. You cannot maintain a comedic line alone. It has to be collaborative."
There's no back-story for your character Frank.
"Isn't that wonderful? T�a was invited by the producers to add a back-story to build up her role, and she said, 'Definitely not. I want the audience to see me fully formed, and then have the opportunity to discover me.' And I totally agree."
Was it always your decision to be a chameleonic actor and try out different roles?
"Very much. I was very lucky to join the Royal Shakespeare Company when I was 21. And staying with the Company on and off for a very long time, I had to carry a wide variety of roles. Often during a week I'd carry four roles in my head, doing eight performances a week. I had to compartmentalize. And I think that stayed with me."
A Short History of...
Oliver Dahan, La Vie en Rose
Chris Eigeman, The Treatment
Mark Fergus, First Snow
Lance Weiler, Head Trauma
Mira Nair, The Namesake