Ben Kingsley: Mohandas Gandhi vs. Don Logan

Ben Kingsley

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.
But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Mohandas Gandhi

The Royal Shakespeare Company alum had only done only one (forgettable) film role ten years before, but that didn’t prevent director Sir Richard Attenborough from asking Kingsley in for a screen test for his new biopic of Mohandas Gandhi. Attenborough’s fruitless 20 year search for an actor capable of pulling off the pivotal lead role had come to an end: “He was absolutely mesmeric… There was no question he was the one.” Film critics Richard Schickel (Time) and Jack Kroll (Newsweek) both called his performance as India’s spiritual leader “astonishing.” Kingsley easily nabbed an Academy Award (and BAFTA and Golden Globe) for Best Actor.

The case for Don Logan

Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter called Kingsley’s performance of Don Logan “astonishing” as well. But not in a good way. He disparaged the Sexy Beast intimidator as “Ben Kingsley spraying saliva-lubricated variants of the F-word into the atmosphere like anti-aircraft fire for 10 solid minutes.” Though the script is profane, Kingsley was immediately drawn to it—not improvising; saying the words verbatim—stating “the rhythm of the writing is perfectly balanced [and] beautifully architectured.” His relentlessly menacing performance got him a Best Supporting Actor nomination and accolades as one of the cinema’s greatest villains of recent years.


Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!