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Ben Kingsley on best actor in Gandhi in 1993


Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley

'Peter O'Toole, Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman were my fellow nominees, so I was convinced a nomination was as far as I would get.

They were my idols, and I was the new kid on the block. When John Travolta came on stage, I turned to my then wife and said: 'Get ready to applaud Paul Newman.' When he said my name, everything went into slow motion, the way it does in the movies.

I don't know why I wore a white jacket. I just thought: 'Well, I'm not going to win so I might as well enjoy dressing up.' I got it in the sales and it was a little tight. I went to the barber the night before; I had grown a thin moustache for a stage role and had a bit of hair back then, which needed a trim. The barber suggested some tan for my face; by the time I got back to my room and looked in the mirror my face was orange.

Lifting my Oscar, with the jacket and the moustache and the orange face, I looked like a mad wine waiter, asking: 'Who ordered the chardonnay?'

We tried to have a very simple meal afterwards but people were climbing over the banquette where we were sitting, trying to get an autograph. I remember someone standing on my head while I was eating my burger. It's never how you imagine it's going to be.

After Gandhi I had gone back to London to play the West End; my fellow nominee Dustin Hoffman came to see the show.

He was one of the first people in my dressing room afterwards. He hugged me and said: 'I'm gonna beat you, you bastard.'

Gandhi won eight Oscars, with Richard Attenborough taking home two for best director and best picture. I saw him not long before he died. He had had a stroke and was in a wheelchair, and I sat for a long time, holding his hand; he just smiled and smiled. To see him as that vibrant, commanding presence on set and then unable to put two words together was a shock.

I said: 'We did it, Dickie' and he very slowly replied, 'Yes'.'

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