Sir Ben Kingsley on how Elie Wiesel fueled his "Operation Finale" performance

Sir Ben Kingsley talks "Operation Finale"
Sir Ben Kingsley talks "Operation Finale" 05:22

Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley has acted in dozens of critically-acclaimed films over his career. Kingsley is known for his unforgettable roles in movies like "Gandhi," "Schindler's List" and "House of Sand and Fog."

Now, he's starring in the historical thriller "Operation Finale," which is based on the real mission to capture Adolf Eichmann, a chief architect of the Holocaust. Kingsley portrays Eichmann, who had been hiding in Argentina with his family under an alias after World War II.

Sir Ben Kingsley CBS News

In order to prepare for the role, he relied on his past meetings with Holocaust survivors, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Kingsley says the last time he met with Wiesel, he told him he would be dedicating a performance to him.

"I did not immerse myself in Nazism, or German nationalism," Kingsley said. "I immersed myself in the memory of Elie Wiesel and every day I said to myself, and to a photograph of him I had in my pocket,  'Elie, I'm doing this for you,' and that was my engine, that was my fuel."

One of the biggest tensions in the film is balancing the horrors of Eichmann's legacy with portrayals of his humanity. Kingsley says he hopes that will force viewers to take an honest look at history.

"I think if we fictionalize the man as a 'monster baddie'… then we relegate that horrendous portion of history to fiction and it's either easier to forget, digest or dismiss," Kingsley said. "But when we insist on the audience to accept these men and women as men and women, then it makes that period of history much harder to deal with but we must, must confront it and deal with it. Eichmann was one of us."

"Operation Finale" is in theaters August 29.

OPERATION FINALE | Official Trailer | MGM by MGM on YouTube