By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 19, 2002 11:00 AM

You can’t get much further away from India’s spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi than Don Logan — gangster, psychopath and a man who simply doesn’t take no for an answer, notes PEOPLE. “The central point in Don’s psyche is that he (considers) himself a very, very effective weapon,” Ben Kingsley, who’s been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the frightening Logan in the black comedy “Sexy Beast,” told PEOPLE. The nod marks Kingsley’s third nomination after having taken home the gold as Best Actor in 1982’s “Gandhi.” His other Supporting Actor nomination was also for playing a gangster, Meyer Lansky, in 1991’s “Bugsy.” So how does Kingsley, 58, graduate from being a man of peace to a man with a piece? “I simply allowed myself to say, ‘Ben, you are playing a weapon. Let’s see what happens to the body.'” What happens is a weird transformation, from human into near-robot, eerily calm and composed while everybody around him goes crazy. Yet this same character is prone to sudden, unexpected bursts of strong violence. Kingsley said that Don’s tattoos, painted on the actor’s arms in the makeup trailer, also helped him feel the character. “That was a kind of adornment of the body . . . that made me feel like a weapon. Little things like that make a big difference.” Kingsley also said that he was “deeply grateful” to be nominated for such a range for roles. “The Academy is sending a message that we like our actors to stay free,” he said. “We like our actors to be allowed to play a variety of roles.”