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TIME's interview with the actor continues on Time.com. Read these extra questions with Sir Ben Kingsley.
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? Ellizah Adam in Jakarta, Indonesia
I'd be pistachio. Definitely pistachio. I don't know why that's such a quick answer but honestly pistachio jumped at me. Maybe because I was asked to have an ice cream lat week in a movie I'm making here in New York and I said, 'could I have pistachio' and the prop guy said no. My face dropped. That would be on film, my sad face.
What has been your favorite role so far? Ashwin Sivanesan in Columbus, Ohio
That's difficult because I've been blessed by so many remarkable roles. I've been really, really fortunate so far. Elegy has not been screened yet; I just finished doing that with Penélope Cruz. But my favorite is House of Sand and Fog because it stirred something inside me. I still love the character; it's left its thumbprint on me. They don't always do that, but he did. There was something supremely dignified about him. He was committed to his family and culture, determined to make America his home, torn between the past and the future and unable to build a present for himself and his family. I loved him. I thought he was a great archetypal dad.
How did you prepare for your demonical and mesmerizing role in Sexy Beast? Did it require several takes to get it right? Mark Ginsburg in Chicago, Ill.
Mark, you're going to be really disappointed. I was stuck in L.A. in a film that went over and over and over, and I nearly lost Sexy Beast as a role because the company said, 'We can only wait for Kingsley for 12 more hours.' They finally got rid of me in L.A. I landed in Spain and the next day I did the film in the airport. It was pure, pure intuition. Of course I believe that as an actor I'm preparing all my life because I collect people. I collect memories, and I collect tiny traces of people: voices, walks, mannerisms. Having said that, I know that I was referring to people I've seen in my wider peripheral vision all my life. People who worked backstage in the London theatres I worked in as a young actor. I found them fascinating. Obviously I hung out with them because we all worked together. That London scene was very much part of my life as a young actor. It's just by osmosis. I soak it in all my life and then I have an opportunity to let it out and I realize, 'My God, I have been paying attention.'
What one role in the history of film do you wish you could have played? Josiah Hager in Bath, N.Y.
I think in another lifetime I would have loved to have been Spencer Tracy. I admire his stillness, his massive reserves of energy. The closest we have now is Tony Hopkins. Nearly all his movies, were in black and white and I love black and white. I would love to have been an actor in the black and white era.
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.
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.
What books are you reading at the moment? Lynn K. Gardaz in Macau
I love historical accounts and I'm reading about the Battle of Jutland in 1916 between the German High Seas Fleet and the British Frand Fleet. It's the last of the great Armadas facing each other, and it never happened again. I love history. I'm fascinated by World War I, by how the whole map of Europe changed so radically between 1914 and 1918. It's never been the same since, and we're still struggling with those changes.
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.