I had an opportunity to speak with legend Sir Ben Kingsley about his complex portrayal of Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale.
There are few actors in this world as renowned and captivating as Sir Ben Kingsley for delivering all-time great performance after all-time great performance. In Operation Finale, Sir Ben Kingsley portrays a man known for pure real-life evil, the architect of the holocaust, in a multi-deminesonial performance. Initially, Kingsley’s Eichmann is presented in Operation Finale as a seemingly ordinary father, who’s disappointed in his son Klaus after he lashes out against his (unknowingly) Jewish girlfriend. He poses the question, “This is how I raised you?” and to go make things right with Sylvia. The audience is then presented with an image of Eichmann sitting with his younger child, enjoying watching trains pass. An innocent activity out of context, a truly surreal, horrifying visual in-context as Eichmann.
It’s the first time in a film we see Eichmann in the context of his family life, showing the audience, these are in actor Lior Raz’ (who portrays Isser Harel in Operation Finale) words “real, real people” who did these horrible things. They are not otherworldly beings or monsters crafted in a book but real people who did the unspeakable. It’s of vital importance to note this fact because as Lior Raz has commented, “It could still happen today.”
One of the most enduring images in Operation Finale is that of an Eichmann being more preoccupied with wiping ink off his shirt sleeve as Jews are shot without mercy in trenches. Eichmann describes that he might have seen Peter Malkin’s sister among them holding her baby, asking for it to be saved, during what appears to be a flashback. Yet, is referenced by Eichmann as what he thinks Malkin believes happened right after. Leading the question if Eichmann recounted what did truly happen or not in the film. Yet, Kingsley’s Eichmann attempts to plead that his crimes were that of his superiors and he was just doing his job. That he should not take the brunt of the blame, or as he calls it in Operation Finale, be the “scapegoat” to Peter Malkin’s [Oscar Isaac] people in Israel.
Eventually, Kingsley’s Eichmann agrees to go willingly to answer for his unspeakable crimes if he is allowed the promise of seeing his wife again. Earlier Eichmann is constantly concerned if is family is safe until Oscar Isaac’s Peter Malkin confirms that they are indeed safe, “What do you think we are?” It’s ironic that Eichmann is so concerned about what might happen to see family when he saw through a plan to see millions of other ones to be permanently ruined.
Sir Ben Kingsley told me that he “was was very privileged to look at him (Eichmann) from the perspective of his victims.” How the “perception of the role was not defined by his [Eichmann’s] ideology,” and rather his preparation for the role, ‘was defined by acquaintance and friendship with his victims.’
Interview with Sir Ben Kingsley on Operation Finale :
Sir Ben Kingsley: Hello Nir!
Nir Regev: Hey, so you played a character that was very complex. I felt you brought a lot of sympathetic elements.
Sir Ben Kingsley: Good.
Nir Regev: It was an interesting character where even after he got caught initially and tried denying it, where I felt maybe again they caught the wrong guy. I’m really interested to hear your research and general inspirations to play this kind of completely new perspective, on what people envision as just evil, and the architect, and all that kind of stuff.
Sir Ben Kingsley: I think that the actual trial showed us how he was perceived from the point of view of his victims. The first time ever I think, that such a trial was televised worldwide and the world had an opportunity to see his victims point to him. In other words, he seemed to be in that glass box shaped and defined, not by his ideology but by his victims. That’s where the truth emerges. I spent time as you probably know with Simon Wiesenthal when I portrayed him in Murderers Among Us, the HBO series. He was the great Nazi hunter, who in fact discovered that Eichmann was in Buenos Aires. And I’ve already played that man, which is very interesting.
Then of course, I moved into Schindler’s List under Steven’s guidance and met the Pfefferberg family and other survivors on the list. And then I was graced with the opportunity of playing Otto Frank, the remarkable father of Anne Frank. In the film footage of the trial, you see the enormous grief unleashed from the witnesses’ perspective. I, from all the wonderful people that I’ve mentioned, including Miep Gies who hid Anne Frank in the attic with her family, was at the receiving end in them of a tidal wave of grief… Accompanied by an extraordinary dignity. And it is that wave of grief that defines what these people did to people. So my perception of the role was not defined by his ideology. And my preparation for the role, was thank goodness, defined by my acquaintance and my friendship with his victims. I was very privileged to look at him from the perspective of his victims.
Nir Regev: The scene in which you wipe off ink and it’s kind of almost like a flashback. I was wondering when I was watching the movie was that supposed to have actually happened? Or was that you just trying to kind of hone in on Peter [Malkin] and try to say ‘Oh, this is what you think I did?’
Sir Ben Kingsley: In the film, he mentions the child had some blood splashing on him. There is a very bizarre connection between cruelty and sentimentality. And also when a soul is stained, there is some obsessive, repetitive gesture that sometimes accompanies that. Like the famous washing of the hands of Lady Macbeth. And it’s a similar kind of dramatic gesture, that I think encapsulates the bizarre combination of utter indifference to the fate of people and yet making sure that his shoelaces are tied properly, and his tie is straight. It’s a very odd combination but it does exist.
Of that fastidiousness, in the dress. And also of course the scientific process, mechanical process, military process of the fastidiousness with lists and film footage, and photographs of destroying as many of Europe’s Jews as they possibly could. It’s very hard for us to understand but it is an extraordinary combination.
Nir Regev: Thank you very much!
Sir Ben Kingsley: Thank you!
See Operation Finale in theaters starting today.
Ellen Toland spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor and society’s inability to separate job title from human being leading to a culture of objectification.
Ellen Toland’s Emma Taylor in new film Inside the Rain is a quiet looking glass into the day-to-day treatment of commodified human beings. When the fantasy of body sushi and the gentlemen’s club ends and a person trying to resume their regular life off-the-clock begins. Yet, separating the person from their job title appears a distant hope, like spotting individual blades of grass outside. It’s for this reason, among many others, that Emma Taylor finds comfort in another person pre-judged by society. One born with bipolar disorder and treated as such at all times to personal detriment. Even scorned in suspicion for taking their medication due to repetitional bias.
Meet Ben Glass, Inside the Rain’s lead protagonist. Ben is largely defined by one act during Into the Rain, an attempted suicide via overdose. In turn, Ben is later accused of another such attempt when he’s spotted simply organizing his medicine for the week… Leading to an unjust arrest and potential exclusion from university. Thus, Ben Glass decides to make a film about all the events leading up to the arrest as a proactive visual defense. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill once told Scholarship interviewee Kristy Esposito that, ‘You made a mistake and to them that’s all you’ll ever be,’ and it feels highly applicable to Inside the Rain’s plot. Much like Jimmy tried to drive Kristy to fighting forward even without the scholarship, Emma Taylor feels Ben can be advance forward in his life without going back to a University that preemptively shunned him.
This interview contains spoilers for Inside the Rain.
Interview with Ellen Toland on Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor:Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Nir Regev [The Natural Aristocrat]: A good portion of TV & Film audiences are unable to disconnect the character they see on-screen from an actor in real life. During Inside the Rain, these fraternity looking, rich jocks bother Emma Taylor outside of the strip club she works at. Unable to separate the fantasy of body sushi from a regular person having a smoke after work. I was wondering how you feel about that?
Ellen Toland: Oh, that’s a really, really good question. I think that’s a feminine issue especially and it’s pretty ingrained in masculine culture. To objectify women, having a hard time separating the fact that they are not an object and something to toy with. I feel that’s what that scene really plays upon because those guys definitely don’t see a difference between a human being and their sushi tray.
And I think that’s a real issue with our culture in general.
It’s something that people really need to assess within themselves. I think that happens with people and titles of their jobs in the first place too. We don’t see past the title of what people do, and we make that their entire identity… And then treat them with that sense.
Do you feel Emma’s openness lends itself to accept a bipolar person intimately into her life despite his involuntarily asylum stay? There’s many that would have second thoughts after seeing someone forcibly institutionalized but you decide to donate Ben $5,000 dollars for his student film.
Yeah, I feel Emma’s seen a lot of different types of people and has a deep well of empathy & understanding for people. She kind of sees that with Ben but I also think it’s matched with Ben’s acceptance of her and building her up. Which I don’t think she’s had a lot of in her own life. It’s the perfect combination of both of them meeting each other exactly where they’re at, building each other up, and ultimately eventually move on in their own lives.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
What was it like shooting the scene where Emma’s having dinner with Ben’s parents and mentions she works at a strip club?
I think my choice going into the dinner was that Emma hadn’t been introduced to a lot of parents and treated normally. She’s meeting their possible judgment by just really owning it and trying to almost test them out too and see how they’re going to react. When it’s met with genuine acceptance as well, she’s pleasantly surprised. Shooting that scene was really fun and the restaurant was very sweet to us as well, we ate a huge meal! [laughs] That was great, never bad to get to eat on set, you know?Catherine Curtin as Emma Glass and Paul Schulze as David Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw an interview with you and Aaron Fisher where he said, ‘During auditions it just kept going back to Ellen, Ellen, Ellen!’ What do you think was that X-Factor won you the role?
Ultimately, I feel Aaron and I had a pretty natural chemistry. One that you can’t really manipulate with actors necessarily. All the pieces fell together. We really had a good energy together and you really need that in a romance. (laughs)
Inside the Rain left things a little bit open ended for the ending. Why do you feel the choice was made not to send the audience home feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ with a full happy ending?
I mean I think it was also being realistic to what really would happen in real life. Aaron was also basing the film off of his own life. He wanted to play to the truth of that. And I think they both needed to go and own themselves. They’d been given that confidence, and that’s what’s so good about the flash forward at the end.
It showed that that’s why Ben made that choice, that he really could move forward and ended up with the person he was meant to be with. We have people in our life all the time that are just chapters that are meant to lead us to end of our own story, it doesn’t make those chapters any less important.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
Inside the Rain feels so much like art imitating life. I have to ask… Is Emma Taylor the real name of the girl portrayed in the film?
Oh, no it’s not her real name! (laughs) It’s loosely based off of someone but it’s definitely not the same name! There’s elements of Aaron’s life in the film, I’d say 60/40 but the film is loosely biographical. Like the last ten years all stirred around into one movie.
Do you feel being aware that Aaron knew this person impacted your interpretation in any way? Or did you still approach the role in the same way you would any other?
You think about it for sure but you also want to create your own vision of it and own that. Aaron and I definitely talked a ton about Emma but he gave him lots of room to make my own decisions. Aaron’s an actor’s director!
There was kind of a frugal moment toward the end at the fast food joint where Emma is adding everything up on her head. It seemed based on those sexually fueled videos she was making outside of her main job and the $5,000 donation that she’d be rich. How do you feel about that scene?
That scene is trying to say that she’s working really hard to get where she is, and knows the worth of a dollar. Feeling at the same time that Ben hasen’t had that kind of struggle. I think you can be making a lot of money and still be frugal. You remember how hard it was to get there.
Why do you feel that despite ‘red flags’ being present, Emma decides to donate the money for Ben’s film? Did Ben’s dream become Emma’s dream and intertwined at that point?
Yeah it all becomes mixed up. I think it also becomes her dream. Emma sees this person that she cares about and understands how important it is to him. There was no too big of a feat to make that dream come true.
Would you like to reprise the character of Emma Taylor potentially in another film?
I love Emma! She’s so brave and strong, I really adore her. If there is an Inside the Rain: Part 2, sure. I mean Aaron and I are really good buds, I love working with him. I’d love to work with him again, of course!
How much of yourself do you see in Emma as a character?
I think that any person you play, you bring an element of yourself. There’s things that are different, there’s things that are the same but I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. You just bring as much of your research on their perspective of the world as you can. Whether that’s the way you move or even read things. Maybe there’s pieces of yourself in that. It’s a weird little mixed up bag.Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13
I saw you studied over in RADA, one of the best acting schools in the world. How do you feel it established your foundations as an actress?
It was amazing! I loved it, some of the best professors I ever had were there. It was something I’d always dreamt of doing and I loved London. It was a really important step in developing my craft. Everything that people say about it… It’s all true! It did not disappoint.
Read more Film and Television interviews in The Natural Aristocrat’s Interview category section. Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat TV with Host Nir Regev interviewing leading talent in the entertainment and sports industry on-camera!
Draft picks in fantasy sports act as surrogates to the type of person you really are. “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” – Mustang’s [Domenick Lombardozzi] double entendre in Cold Pursuit.
This article contains spoilers for 2019 film, Cold Pursuit.
Around the 34:15 minute mark of Cold Pursuit, there’s a seemingly innocent but meaningful conversation between ‘senior enforcer’ Mustang [Domenick Lombardozzi] and his boss’ young son Ryan Calcote [Nicholas Holmes]. Mustang requests advice from the prodigy-like youngster for his Fantasy Football league… Demoralized by constant losing. “I can’t… I can’t win a game.”
Ryan inquires if Mustang is playing for money, testing the waters as he examines the squad. Mustang confirms and the youngster immediately notices a pattern, “You have four Cleveland Browns on your team.” In effect, Mustang has placed all his eggs in one basket, hedging his bets entirely on the whims of one battalion for victory. Mustang responds, “Well, they’re my home team. What’s a man without loyalty?” In essence, clearly identifying what kind of person Mustang is and gives him away. Loyal to a fault, always going down with the ship… Even when there’s a life raft within fingertips’ reach.
As such, Ryan tells him, “I can’t help you,” sensing Mustang to be a lost cause. If Mustang had approached his fantasy football team in a black and white, unattached, purely mathematical stats-based manner… He’d likely be on the road to gridiron victory already. However, Mustang let the emotional attachment of his home team get the better of him to personal financial detriment. He was willing to sacrifice both his wallet and perception as a skilled drafter to colleagues/friends in order to appease players he’d never even met.
Thus, being accepted as a Cleveland Browns supporter by some invisible corporate eye is more important to Mustang than any kind of personal gain. This mentality equals a favorable feeling to losing ‘honorably’ as part of a team, instead of ‘dishonorably’ winning as an individual. Without giving too much away from the the film, Domenick Lombardozzi’s Mustang would go on to experience loss in other areas of life than fantasy football in Cold Pursuit. It raises the question, at what times is social acceptance more important than individual success?
Watch the memorable acting scene featuring Domenick Lombardozzi & Nicholas Holmes in Cold Pursuit, now streaming on HBO Go and available to rent or buy on Amazon. HBO is available as a Channel on HBO as well for non-cable subscribers.
Be sure to read Requiem for Mac: How Domenick Lombardozzi won Ray Donovan fans on The Natural Aristocrat.
La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México (OSN) will be performing two nights of Stanley Kubrick film music titled ‘Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded’ or Kubrick Symphonic Reloaded at Palacio de Bellas Artes.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico (La Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México) will be playing a full range of iconic pieces from Stanley Kubrick’s films on Friday, March 6 (8 pm) and Sunday, March 8 (12:15 pm) in Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes).
According to INBAL (Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature), eleven compositions will be featured total from Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. * “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and 4” are counted as one piece for the above INBAL link’s number of 10. José Luis Castillo will be conducting/guest directed the show with Juan Arturo Brennan narrating the event with the history of each piece. The presentation will be part of OSN’s ‘Programa 5’, or fifth program of the season.
The Full Program:
A Clockwork Orange – Beethoven/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Suicide Scherzo (Ninth Symphony, Second Movement, Abridged)”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1”
A Clockwork Orange – Edward Elgar – “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 4”
A Clockwork Orange – Henry Purcell/Wendy Carlos (version for film) – “Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “German Dance No. 1 in C major”
Barry Lyndon – Franz Schubert – “Piano Trio in E-Flat, Film Adaptation of the Opus 100 2nd Movement”
Barry Lyndon – Frederick The Great – Hohenfriedberger March *
José Luis Castillo es uno de los directores y compositores más destacados y activos en el panorama musical actual. Es considerado como uno de los especialistas en el repertorio moderno y contemporáneo.#KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/XlOxqPlShR
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
Kubrick Sinfónico Reloaded: Ticket Availability
Tickets for the event appear sold out on Ticketmaster for Sunday’s event and no longer available online for tonight’s performance. If you’re a local resident, your best bet might be to go to the venue’s box office.
Juan Arturo Brennan, guionista, productor, realizador y conductor de programas culturales de radio y televisión. Crítico de música y colaborador de otras publicaciones, periodista y traductor. #KubrickSinfónicoReloaded
Viernes 6 y domingo 8 de marzo, 2020@PalacioOficial pic.twitter.com/KKQEYRAzQG
— OSN México (@OSN_MX) March 5, 2020
More Stanley Kubrick Coverage at The Natural Aristocrat
Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat’s exclusive one-on-one interview with Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Katharina Kubrick and view a walking video tour of the ‘Envisioning 2001″ exhibit at NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image.
Footage of the entire ‘Envisioning 2001′ press presentation featuring a Q & A session with Katharina Kubrick is also available!
The Natural Aristocrat examined the greatness of Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ duel music and how it layered the film. Read more Kubrick articles on The Natural Aristocrat’s Stanley Kubrick category section.