Books That Made a Difference to Ben Kingsley

In the new movie The Dictator, he plays for laughs. In real life, the actor likes his literature serious and thought-provoking. 
Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Will: A Novel

464 pages; Overlook TP
Lying on his deathbed, a fictional William Shakespeare finally gives voice to his own story. "It's a stream of wonderful incidents and memories," says Ben Kingsley, who has more than a passing familiarity with the works of the Bard, having spent his early professional career with the Royal Shakespeare Company—living in Stratford-upon-Avon ("I love that part of England," he says) and performing in 17 of the 38 plays. Rush, who taught Shakespeare for several decades, displays an acuity and authority Kingsley relishes: "Nothing is speculative, no dithering, no passing the buck or looking over his shoulder at academics who are going to waggle their fingers at him," he says. "It's just a very solid read—anecdotal and rich and very witty."  
— As told to Lesley Gaspar