Ben Kingsley received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Meyer Lansky in Bugsy.
Kingsley unlike his fellow nominee Harvey Keitel is not nearly as comfortable as a gangster. He tries the same trick as Keitel from the voice to his physical demeanor. Kingsley never seems to be completely natural with his gangster voice or his gangster style and it frankly seems a little too much like a performance rather than really being an embodiment of Meyer Lansky.
Unlike Mickey Cohen played by Keitel though the materials did seem to be there to make Meyer Lansky into a memorable or compelling character. The problem is though Kingsley is never able to convey any sort of inner killer, or power one would think would be in a character like this, something that Lee Starsberg was able to very well in the Godfather Part II as Hyman Roth who was based on Meyer Lansky.
Kingsley never gives more than a rather paper thin characterization of Meyer Lansky focusing far too much on the mannerisms of the character, which he does not even do well, without ever achieving any sort of deeper complexity to the character. It is is all around a rather unimpressive performance by Kingsley that never seizes any of the opportunities the role does indeed offer.