Sir Ben Kingsley's grandmother's strongly anti-Semitic remarks motivated him to speak up
The 'Gandhi' star was deeply shocked watching a docuseries about the liberation of Belsen and even more so by his grandmother's anti-Semitism.
Sir Ben Kingsley says his grandmother's anti-Semitic comments "planted a seed" in him to want to speak out.
The Hollywood legend, 79, has revealed his grandparent being "inexplicably but quite vigorously anti-Semitic" disturbed him and he went into "deep shock" as a child after watching a docuseries about the liberation of the Nazi camp Belsen, which is why he has taken on roles in films about the Holocaust.
Those movies include 'Schindler's List', 'Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story', 'Bugsy' and 'Anne Frank: The Whole Story'.
Asked why he's done so many movies about the genocide of Jews during World War II between 1941 and 1945, he told Parade magazine: "I must answer very candidly, and it's an answer that disturbs me but it's the truth. I remember as a schoolboy watching a wonderful television documentary series, which examined World War Il. And as a schoolboy, alone in the house, I watched the liberation of Belsen [a Nazi concentration camp] on film. And I do remember as a young adolescent, I think I was maybe 11 or 12 - this was way after World War Il, of course, it was a retrospective - but I think my heart stopped beating for a little while. I went into deep shock as a child [watching that documentary].
"The disturbing part of this story is that I remember within the same few days having a conversation with my maternal grandmother, who was inexplicably but quite vigorously anti-Semitic. So, the two impressions came to me almost simultaneously, and as a child, it was very difficult for me, impossible for me to counter my grandmother's outburst, but I think a seed was planted in me that said to me,
"One day I will speak."