Ben Kingsley

Sexy Beast

Interviewed by James Mottram

"Sexy Beast" is not your typical Brit gangster flick, is it?

This is not a gangster film. It's as much a gangster film as "Othello" is a film about soldiers. It's not really a play about soldiers; it's a play about jealousy and envy. And this is a play about envy. Don despises Gal's flabbiness, and the way the warrior in him has deteriorated. At the same time, he envies his happiness. "I don't want you to be happy. Why should I?" is the central line of Don's in the film. Who would've thought that would've come from a gangster film?

What do you think "Sexy Beast" is about?

All I can say is that I read this as a tribal struggle, and the refusal of one man to return to his tribe provoked great indignation and anger in another, who was clearly a slave to that tribe but would never call himself a slave. Don clearly is, but would always refer to himself as a free man.

Did you meet any real criminals in preparation for the role?

No. If there was newsreel footage of Don Logan, then I might have watched a bit. The lovely thing that Ray Winstone said to me on day one of shooting was "Ben, I know the man you're playing. I can give you his name, I can tell you where he lives. It's uncanny. I know this man." That act of generosity from a fellow actor is worth 14 hours in the library; the actor is saying "Ben, trust your intuition".

Read a review of "Sexy Beast".