Sir Ben Kingsley on ‘Operation Finale’ and the Proper Way to Play a Monster

     August 28, 2018

Operation Finale is a white-knuckle thriller that also just happens to be based on a true story. Director Chris Weitz helms the story of Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac), who—along with a crack team of fellow Mossad and Shin Bet agents—tracked down and captured the war criminal Adolf Eichmann (Oscar-winner Sir Ben Kingsley) years after he helped manufacture the Holocaust. The film features a few fantastic supporting performances—including Nick Kroll taking a break from comedy, and up-and-comer Haley Lu Richardson as a teenager hiding her Judaism from a Nazi boyfriend (Joe Alwyn)—but the rising tension between Isaac and Kingsley is a sight to behold, worth the price of admission alone.

operation-finale-posterRecently, I got the chance to sit down with Kingsley in New York City. The iconic actor gave me a brief but fascinating masterclass in character theory—never tell Ben Kingsley his character is lying—and discussed the ways he avoided painting the real-life figure of Adolph Eichmann as a cartoon madman, and why. We also talked about finding chemistry with frequent scene partner Oscar Isaac and exactly why an actor never discusses that chemistry on set.

Check out what Kingsley had to say in the player above, and below is exactly what we talked about.

Ben Kingsley:

  • How an actor convincingly lies on-screen
  • The difference between his character lying and his character being manipulative
  • How, as an actor, he did not want to portray the role of Adolf Eichmann as a straight monster.
  • How he was able to make the audience feel bad for a character that they know is a horrible person.
  • Why conversations with Oscar Isaac about their characters’ dynamic never took place on set.
  • How he always avoids delivering a contrived performance.

Here is the official synopsis for Operation Finale:

The thrilling true story follows the 1960 covert mission of legendary Mossad agent Peter Malkin as he infiltrates Argentina and captures Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer who masterminded the transportation logistics that brought millions of innocent Jews to their deaths in concentration camps.


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