Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a terrible experience. So take a look at Sir Ben's IMDb page and try to figure out which filmmaking experience of his was so toxic it prompted him to torch the screenplay. No, really, he did. But of course he's not saying which film it was.
"I actually burned the script," Kingsley says while promoting his latest film, the stop-motion animated film "Boxtrolls" — which we can rule out from being the offending production in question. "I had a ceremonial burning of the script. The director was such an awful person who was so discourteous to the cast and so amateurish. It was a colossal waste of good energy and time. All actors want to do is please and get it right, and it was so difficult. I burned the script."
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One way to avoid any repeats of such an experience? Taking matters into his own hands. "I've created a production company with my wife. We've got six films on our slate, and one of them is about a naval admiral," Kingsley says. "I want to play a man in uniform. I've got tremendous respect for that life that they lead. We know so little about it. It's never discussed or talked about, when they come back from battle. I want to examine the choices that have to be made in those terrible times. That's one of the films on our slate. I'll get to wear a uniform. It's about the first World War and the Battle of Jutland."
And it will likely be a far cry from his "Boxtrolls" character, the devious Archibald Snatcher, who looks and sounds nothing like Kingsley himself — which was intentional. "My physicality on screen — the puppet — is very unlike my own silhouette. The movement and the mannerisms that you see on screen are not human," he says. "I tried to echo that with stretching vowel sounds and my accent and playing with my voice, from a very relaxed starting point. I actually was lying down for most of my recordings. I know the recording studio quite well and I’ve got some good mates who work there, and they rigged me up a reclining chair, so that I could lie almost horizontal and do all of my recording like that. I wanted it to come from a very relaxed part of me."
While Kingsley only has a bit of experience in voiceover work prior to "Boxtrolls," he's got more lined up already, with Jon Favreau's take on "the Jungle Book," which will only require the use of his voice. "Mowgli is a real child, and he’ll be surrounded by computer generated animals," Kingsley says of the project, in which he'll play Bagheera the leopard. "It will be my voice. That's what Jon wants. I offered him all sorts of different things, and even an Indian accent, but he said, 'No, I want your British voice.' This script is probably a lot closer to Kipling than the original Disney one was."
No word yet on whether he'll be doing this job lying down as well, but it's safe to say he won't torch the script.