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Ben Kingsley

House of Sand and Fog

Having made a career out of playing men with strong convictions, Ben Kingsley, co-starring with Jennifer Connelly in DreamWorks’ “House of Sand and Fog,” is someone who knows something about making a stand.

The film’s plotline centers around Kingsley’s character –Massoud Amir Behrani, a former colonel in the Iranian army — who purchases a house north of San Francisco to be used as an investment vehicle to pay for his son’s college education only to be told he has to sell it back to the previous owner, Connelly.

His resolve — some might call it inflexibility — comes with serious repercussions.

“My portrait is of a Persian warrior for whom loss of face and honor is intolerably painful,” he explains. “After losing so much, it’s very devastating for him to deal with.”

Kingsley, a U.K. native who just turned 60, is adept at playing characters of different nationalities. He’s gone Indian, of course, and won his actor Oscar in “Gandhi,” and was nominated for his turn as an American in “Bugsy.” (His third nomination came three years ago for “Sexy Beast.”)

And while he’s worked with accomplished helmers such as Richard Attenborough (“Gandhi”), Barry Levinson and Steven Spielberg (“Schindler’s List,” “A.I.”), “House of Sand and Fog” is directed by a feature film newcomer, Vadim Perelman.

All of which makes the cultural combination fascinating. Perelman, a Russian, directing a Brit about Middle East customs.

“Being of Russian stock, he has a sense of true suffering, and of loss through gain,” says Kingsley of his tyro helmer. “He was extremely generous and very strong for us — a man sharing a great journey.”

Coming attractions: “A Sound of Thunder,” “Suspect Zero,” “Thunderbirds,” “Valiant”

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