Ben Kingsley finds great depth in ‘Iron Man’ villain
By Cindy Pearlman May 1, 2013 4:48PM
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:08AM
LOS ANGELES — Iron Man is the first one to admit that even he has his, uh, Kryptonite.
“These superheroes are only ever as good as their bad guys,” Robert Downey Jr. said “If you have a lame bad guy then you’re done.”
There is nothing lame about the baddie in “Iron Man 3.”
In fact, he’s Sir Bad Guy. Sir Ben Kingsley, who turns 70 years old in 2013, plays the Mandarin, an evil sort who seems to have terrorism on his mind.
“I tried to give the Mandarin in his political broadcasts a certain political sense of righteousness. He’s almost paternalistic and patriarchic,” said Kingsley during an early morning interview at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
“There’s an unpredictability to him that I really enjoyed.”
Kingsley, who has at least a half dozen films currently in the can, said he had rules when it came to doing a superhero movie.
“The Mandarin is such a unique villain,” he said. “And the role was all in the script. There was a wonderful document and there was very little straying off the written word. When we did improvise, it was minimal and just maybe to just sharpen one or two little ideas.
“In an ‘Iron Man’ movie, it’s all there. I’m the kind of actor who really responds to the written word. I love to see it down there on the page.”
He said his strange delivery of lines in the film was key.
“His delivery and his weird iconography were there to disconcert the audience and completely scatter any expectations of where this Mandarin might be coming from. Again, it was all about unpredictability.”
It’s also about some strange looks. “I promise that you’ll find me in at least one terrible outfit,” he said with a laugh.
Kingsley, best known for his Oscar-winning work in “Gandhi” (1982) and films including “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Shutter Island” (2010), said another perk for him was working with Downey.
“The ‘Iron Man’ movies come from Robert who brings such good energy to the set,” Kingsley said. “There’s always a quest for sincerity and a quest for the genuine from him. There is a quest for putting the human dance on the screen. All generations respond. Children respond to sincerity as do adults. Robert is that guiding type of actor who takes us through an experience.”
Kingsley said acting, for him, is about sincerity.
“I always debate where the sincerity is in a scene,” Kingsley said. “I ask, ‘Where is the heart?’ ”
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