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Ben Kingsley looks menacing as Iron Man 3 Super-Villain The Mandarin

He may have won acclaim for playing the pacifist Mohandas Gandhi and the petrified Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern in Schindler's List but the ever-versatile Sir Ben Kingsley has also shown a liking for playing characters on the other end of the human spectrum.

In spite of looking like a low-level civil servant, Sir Ben Kinsgley managed to scare the living daylights out of millions - including  tough-guy Ray Winstone - with his turn as the sociopath Don Logan in "Sexy Beast".

And now the Oscar-winner has been unveiled in all his grimy, menacing glory as super-villain The Mandarin in the latest instalment of the Iron Man franchise.

Sir Ben - born s9kna Pandit Bhanji - looks utterly menacing with a long beard and hair tied up on the top of his head, contemplating the destruction of his arch nemesis Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.

In a new featurette released by Marvel Studios, the 69-year-old describes why he was drawn to the multi-billion dollar superhero franchise.

'There is something original, dare I use the word intelligent, approach to this film. I was really delighted to join.'

The film's producers have been equally effusive in their praise for Sir Ben.

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told USA Today: “On his last take of his first full day as the Mandarin, when they yelled ‘Cut!’ the entire crew burst into applause, spearheaded by Mr. Downey himself…It was pretty amazing to see that.

“That’s what you get when you hire Sir Ben Kingsley. He’s so into this character, and frankly just scaring the heck out of everybody…They’re like, ‘You’ve broken us out of our skeptical malaise!’

The Mandarin is the leader of an international terrorist ring who is Iron Man's most famous foe from the comic books.

Whilst he is of Chinese descent in the books, producers shied away from giving the villain that nationality for fear of alienating Chinese audiences and is said to have worked with Sir Ben for a number of years developing the character for Iron Man 3.

The film is something of a return to form for Sir Ben after an indifferent few years stretching back to 2008's atrocious 'The Love Guru' starring Mike Myers.

In the intervening five years, the actor has gone from the sublime - Shutter Island, Hugo - through Bollywood - Teen Patti, described by one critic as "a train wreck of a movie" - to the slightly ridiculous - The Dictator, The Wackness.

2013 however, is set to be a good year for Sir Ben.

Apart from The Mandarin, the actor will also play another Don Logan-esque villain in 'The Common Man', a remake of the Bollywood thriller A Wednesday! starring Naseeruddin Shah and Jimmy Shergill.  

 

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