18 Things to Know About Jewish Actor Kingsley Ben-Adir

The Brit has played Malcolm X, Barack Obama and a Ken doll in the "Barbie" movie.

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the “Barbie” movie. For starters, the trailer is delightfully campy and oh-so-pink! Plus, the soundtrack, featuring Haim, Ice Spice, Nicki Minaj and Lizzo is shaping up to be a bop. But for Jewish Barbie fans, there’s another reason to get hyped.

As we previously reported, “At least four Jewish actors are featured alongside Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, Dua Lipa and more. (This feels extremely appropriate considering Barbie inventor Ruth Handler was Jewish, making the most famous doll ever a de facto member of the tribe.)”

This includes British Jewish actor Kingsley Ben-Adir! Here are 18 things to know about him.

1. Kingsley Ben-Adir was born on November 20, 1986 in London to a Trinidadian mother and a European father.

2. He’s a Scorpio!

3. His last name means “son of the mighty” in Hebrew. He, his brother and his mother took the last name after they converted to Judaism.

4. As a kid, he had a pet tarantula named Charlotte! Listen to him tell the story of how it once escaped:

5. Before getting into acting, Kingsley was a teacher for students with disabilities.

6. He enrolled in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at age 21 and graduated in 2011.

7. Kingsley has a very level-headed view of working as an actor.

I feel like 95 percent of this job is dealing with disappointments and getting your energy up only to be let down,” he told the New York Times, “You go, ‘That door’s closed, another one will open. Show gets canceled, that means you’re available for other stuff.’ Lots of people I’ve come up with through the years aren’t able to do that, and you’ll become resentful, bitter, and depressed. I feel real disappointment sometimes, but the bigger the disappointments, the better the highs will be when you get them.”

8. He starred as Karim Washington in the show “The OA.” However, the show was so secretive that Kingsley couldn’t tell his loved ones what he was shooting.

“I told my friends and family that I was just going to do pilot season. I mentioned to my girlfriend that I was filming a show because she needed to know. I mentioned to my brother,” he explained to Vulture. “No one really knew I was doing. [When] the trailer dropped for it, my friends from back home were really surprised. They’re like, ‘Man, you’re like the main part in this!‘”

9. He played Colonel Ben Younger in “Peaky Blinders.” Spoiler alert ahead for a very dramatic scene starring Kingsley:

10. His breakout role was as Malcolm X in the 2020 movie “One Night In Miami…”

11. Kingsley locked himself in a room for three days to prepare for his Malcolm X audition.

12. Working on “One Night in Miami…” deeply affected him.

I had an epiphany halfway through filming ‘One Night In Miami’ that this was the way I want to work, this was the way I’ve been dreaming about working, with this level of intensity. To do this kind of work with more time to prepare is where my heart is,” he said to British GQ.

13. The same year, he played President Barack Obama in “The Comey Rule.”

14. Per his “Barbie” poster, he’s Ken too!

Courtesy of Warner Bros

15. Kingsley is currently starring in the Disney+ show “Secret Invasion” as the villain, Gravik.

“I’ll be honest with you, there was a part of me that didn’t want to lend any of myself to this role,” Kingsley told BuzzFeed. “I remember chatting with producers at the beginning and saying to them, ‘where can we place him?’ In an early iteration of the story, there were details about him being an ex-soldier, and him being mixed race was also an important part of the story at one stage.”

He went on, “We were looking at different places he could be from – obviously Birmingham had been done, Peaky Blinders did it, so that didn’t work. There’s a mixed race community in Butetown just outside of Cardiff, and I just thought that might be a nice way in. It’s a large Caribbean community with a military history too, so I started speaking to people from around there to figure out the character.”

16. Listen to him compare his characters in “Secret Invasion” and “Barbie” here:

17. One of his next roles will be as Bob Marley in a biopic about the iconic reggae musician.

18. Want to know even more about Kingsley? Check out this video from Harper’s Bazaar:

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