Oscar winner Ben Kingsley — who starred as Oskar Schindler's Jewish accountant in Schindler's List and who headlines ABC's wrenching holocaust miniseries, Anne Frank (airing Sunday and Monday at 9 pm/ET) — has no patience for critics who say there are just too many death camp dramas coming out of Hollywood.
"How dare they!" scowls the actor in an interview with TV Guide Online. "Poor souls who want to anesthetize themselves against the realities of life. This dark period of our history happened, and people who don't want to face it are in bad shape."
In Anne Frank — based on Austrian journalist Melissa Muller's 1998 book Anne Frank: The Biography — Kingsley portrays Otto Frank, the young heroine's father and the only survivor in his family. "There is an element of Otto that allowed him to survive the camps, and [gave him] the will — every day of his life after Anne's death — to say, 'Please listen to my daughter,'" says Kingsley, who adds that Frank's "unimaginable grief was the engine of my performance."
While there is no happy ending to this tale — the concluding concentration camp sequence is described by TV Guide's Matt Roush as "almost unbearably sad" — Kingsley is proud that producers chose not to soften the outcome. "I applaud them for facing the fact that history is not tidy," he says, "and we need to remember that Anne Frank died a lice-ridden bag of bones.
"I wish this was a myth," he adds. "But sadly, it's a true story."