Ben Kingsley plays a stern but affectionate mentor, Papa Rudy, to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Phillippe Petit in "The Walk" and the "Gandhi" star says his character is an amalgamation of the directors who inspired and shaped him as an actor.
Ben Kingsley plays a stern but affectionate mentor, Papa Rudy, to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Phillippe Petit in “The Walk” and the “Gandhi” star says his character is an amalgamation of the directors who inspired and shaped him as an actor.
The Robert Zemeckis-directed film, which is being released in India by Sony Pictures on October 9, recreates Petit’s unauthorised high wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York in 1974.
Considered a coup of sorts at that time, the 45-minute walk brought a lot of publicity to Petit and the newly constructed towers.
Kingsley, 71, says he has been blessed to have worked with “great mentors” right from his theatre days.
“When one is molded and shaped by these great mentors, men and women, hopefully a few molecules are changed forever, and a bit rubs off… I immediately felt that there was a patriarchal side to him, a paternal side to him. But patriarchal doesn’t mean only fondness. There’s sternness there are rigid limits laid down.
“There’s a seriousness about his approach to teaching and that I also got from the people, the men and women that I’ve worked with as directors.
“So, he is an amalgam of the people I’ve been fortunate to be shaped by and then I narrowed it down to about five directors, and modelled him on one director, whom I shall not mention. But whom I love,” he told reporters at a media event in Cancun, Mexico, while promoting the movie.
Kingsley, who has worked in some of the best films including an Oscar-winning stint in “Gandhi”, “Schindler’s List” and “Hugo” among many others, says he loved teaming up with Zemeckis.
“Bob is very courageous for a contemporary director, unafraid of tragedy. He’s unafraid of the dark shadow… there is an element of restraint in his work.”
The film is also a love letter to the Twin Towers which were destroyed in the 9/11 terror attacks.
“Also when I cautiously mentioned the word tragedy what I mean is that one of our co-stars in this film are those beautiful Twin Towers. And the way he filmed dear Joseph saying his last words in the film, there is a hint of terrible loss.
“And we do know, and Robert was well aware, that whilst eulogising and celebrating these architectural gods, that they left us, and to have connected them with an angel in the middle is quite extraordinary.”