Ian McKellen

  • 18 February 2005

Date of birth

25th May, 1939







Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25.5.1939) Ian McKellen is an English, Laurence Olivier award winning actor, acknowledged for his work in theatre and film. He is most notable for his roles in Shakespearian plays and popular fantasy and science fiction films such as: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as well as playing Magneto in the recent X-Men films.

Childhood: McKellen was born shortly before World War II in Burnley, Lancashire to parents Dennis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer and Christian preacher and mother, Margery Lois (née Sutcliffe). The family moved to Wigan when Ian was just 4 months old where he claimed he 'slept under a steel plate until he was four years old' due the conflicts of World War II. Ian attended Bolton school and began his acting career at the registered charity organisation, Bolton Little Theatre of which he is now the Patron. His family encouraged his acting profession taking Ian to see multiple plays including: Peter Pan, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream starring Ian's sister Jean, as Bottom. Ian won a scholarship to St. Catherine's College when he was 18.

Acting Career: While at Cambridge, McKellen was a member of the Marlowe Society appearing in Henry IV as Shallow, alongside fellow actors Trevor Nunn (who went on to direct McKellen on stage and in television) and Derek Jacobi. McKellen also starred in Cymbeline alongside Margaret Drabble in 1959. Mckellen received his first professional acting job at Nottingham Playhouse in 1961 as Roper, in A Man For All Seasons - a play by Robert Bolt. The play was later adapted into a multi academy award winning film starring Paul Scofield and Orson Welles. McKellen made his first television appearance in an episode of The Indian Tales of Rupyard Kipling before his first West End performance in a Scent of Flowers. The play achieved notable success and was considered a breakthrough after years of performing in regional theatre. In 1965 McKellen became a member of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company at the Old Vic theatre, which led to McKellen appearing at the Chichester Festival. Mckellen was also cast alongside Lynn Redgrave in the television film Sunday out of Season in the same year. McKellen continued to star in theatre productions and obtained television roles before starring in television series, David Copperfield. McKellen played lead role David Copperfield for the single series it aired in 1966. In 1969 McKellen was cast in his first feature film starring alongside Sandy Dennis in A Touch of Love, nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear award. Throughout the early 1970's McKellen was cast in multiple television films based on theatrical plays including: Edward II, Hamlet and The Tragedy of King Richard II, McKellen was also becoming a well-known figure in British theatre, frequently performing at the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. McKellen was cast in lead roles including title-role Macbeth. McKellen acted in multiple television episodes and television films based on previous plays before achieving notable recognition for his role in Six Degrees of Separation. The film starred Will Smith and was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. In 1995 McKellen wrote his first screenplay of Richard III, an adaptation from original theatrical play by William Shakespeare. The film achieved notable success including two Academy Award nominations and two BAFTA nominations personally for McKellen. McKellen won a European Film Award for best actor as Richard III and achieved him further industry recognition. McKellen worked alongside previous co-star Lynn Redgrave in Gods and Monsters in 1998. The film was about the last days of critically acclaimed director James Whale, whom McKellen played. McKellen was nominated for an Academy Award for his role however lost out to Roberto Benigni for Life Is Beautiful. After returning to his role as David Copperfield in the 1999 television film, McKellen was cast as Magneto in Box Office hit, X-Men. The film earned $54,471,475 during its opening weekend at the US box office. McKellen reprised his role in X 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. Whilst being involved in X-Men, McKellen was cast in Peter Jackson's the Lord of the Rings as Gandalf. McKellen earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his role in the Fellowship of the Ring. McKellen reprised his role as Gandalf for the Lord of the Rings in the Two Towers and the Return of the King both of which achieved critical and commercial success, obtaining McKellen with notable recognition. Despite being involved in major film roles, including animated hits, Flushed Away and the Magic Roundabout as well as starring in Stardust, The Da Vinci code and The Golden Compass, McKellen continued to act in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of King Lear and the Seagull both directed by previous co-star Trevor Nunn. McKellen continues to act in film and theatre and is continuing his role as Gandalf in the Hobbit and Magneto in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Personal Life: Ian's mother died from breast cancer when he was 12 and his father died when he was 24. McKellen came out gay to his step-mother who Ian stated "Not only was she not fazed, but as a member of a society which declared its indifference to people's sexuality years back, I think she was just glad for my sake that I wasn't lying anymore." McKellen made his sexual orientation clear to his co-stars at an early age however it wasn't until 1988 that he came out publically. Since then he has actively fought against sexual discrimination, protesting against Section 28, which proposed top prohibit promoting homosexuality and McKellen launched charities to help homosexual individuals who felt lost. McKellen dated Bolton history teacher, Brian Taylor in 1964 for 8 years. McKellen then went on to date Sean Mathias whom he met at the Edinburgh festival. The couple dated for ten years however parted after stating they had conflicting careers. Mathias went on to direct McKellen in 2009's Waiting for Godot. McKellen has stated he was a good friend of fellow actor Ian Charleson, contributing an entire chapter to him in: 'For Ian Charleson: A Tribute.' McKellen lost his appetite for meat in the 1980's therefore mostly excludes it from his diet. McKellen is still known to eat fish. In 2006 McKellen was diagnosed with prostate Cancer.

Ian McKellen Calls On Hollywood To Be Less Timid In Depicting Minorities

By Ed Biggs in Movies / TV / Theatre on 24 May 2018

Ian McKellen

McKellen said "gay men don't exist" if current Hollywood depictions were to be believed.

Sir Ian McKellen has called upon Hollywood and the movie industry to be less timid about depicting minorities on-screen.

The 78 year old English star of the stage and screen has, for a long time, been one of the most famous and vocal openly gay movie stars. In a new interview with Time Out magazine, he was asked about the recent controversy regarding the decision by the studio running the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel not to depict the young Dumbledore as ‘explicitly gay’.

“That’s a pity. Well, nobody looks to Hollywood for social commentary, do they? They only recently discovered that there were black people in the world,” McKellen remarked.

Continue reading: Ian McKellen Calls On Hollywood To Be Less Timid In Depicting Minorities

Ian McKellen Claims Kevin Spacey Was Disrespectful By Hiding His Sexuality

By Charlotte Court in Movies / TV / Theatre on 09 February 2018

Ian McKellen Kevin Spacey

The actor was discussing Spacey in the light of sexual allegations against him

In the aftermath of the staggering Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, a number of victims of other alleged sexual predators have bravely come out to tell their story. Amongst those accused was Kevin Spacey who, in response, said he couldn’t recall the incident in question and revealed he was gay.

Sir Ian McKellen discussed fellow actor, Kevin Spacey on BBC Radio 4

Now fellow gay actor, Sir Ian McKellen, has revealed he thinks Spacey was disrespectful for hiding his sexuality and suggested that lying about it got him "into problems".

Continue reading: Ian McKellen Claims Kevin Spacey Was Disrespectful By Hiding His Sexuality

Sir Ian McKellen To Return To The West End In 'King Lear'

By Ed Biggs in Movies / TV / Theatre on 08 February 2018

Ian McKellen

McKellen is to return to the same theatre at which he made his stage debut way back in 1964 for the new Jonathan Munby production.

Sir Ian McKellen is to return to London’s West End this year as King Lear, in what he has hinted might be his final major Shakespearean role.

The 78 year old stage and cinema veteran has been starring in Jonathan Munby’s production of ‘King Lear’, where it had enjoyed a short, sold-out run in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre at the end of 2017.

Fittingly, the production will run at the Duke of York’s theatre, where McKellen made his award-winning acting West End debut 54 years ago when he starred in ‘A Scent of Flowers’ by James Saunders.

Continue reading: Sir Ian McKellen To Return To The West End In 'King Lear'

Ian McKellen Doesn't Want A New Gandalf For Amazon 'Lord Of The Rings' TV Series

By Daniel Falconer in Movies / TV / Theatre on 17 December 2017

Ian McKellen

The show will be a collaboration between Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios, but no news on plot or casting has yet been revealed.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios confirmed that they were working together on bringing a 'Lord of the Rings' television series to fans, 14 years after the original film trilogy (based on J.R.R. Tolkein's books of the same name) concluded on the big screen.

Ian McKellen seems ready to take on Gandalf all over again

The 'Hobbit' film trilogy followed, based again on J.R.R. Tolkein's work 'The Hobbit', but since that all came to an end, other than in the world of video games, 'LOTR' fans thought the franchise had seen its final days on screen.

Continue reading: Ian McKellen Doesn't Want A New Gandalf For Amazon 'Lord Of The Rings' TV Series

Sam Smith Regrets Oscars Best Song Speech

By Clive King in Music / Festivals on 03 November 2017

Sam Smith Ian McKellen Dustin Lance Black

Sam Smith has admitted he regrets comments he made while accepting the Academy Award for Best Song in 2016.

Sam Smith regrets mistakenly claiming he was the first openly gay man to win an Academy Award during his speech at the prestigious ceremony in 2016.

The 'Writing's On The Wall' singer was honoured with the Best Song gong for the 'Spectre' hit, and while he was very proud to be recognised for the 'James Bond' theme, the moment was soured by the backlash to his comments as he accepted the prize.

Speaking at the time, he said: ''I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar.''

Continue reading: Sam Smith Regrets Oscars Best Song Speech

Ian McKellen at a screening of the 'Beauty and the Beast' held in New York at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center - New York, United States - Tuesday 14th March 2017

Ian McKellen at a screening of the 'Beauty and the Beast' held in New York at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center - New York, United States - Tuesday 14th March 2017

David Bowie Was Just Too Busy To Play Gandalf In 'Lord Of The Rings'

By Stephanie Chase in Movies / TV / Theatre on 18 December 2016

David Bowie Ian McKellen Peter Jackson

The late singer just couldn’t commit to the trilogy.

There have always been rumours that David Bowie was nearly in Lord of the Rings, but now we have confirmation from one of the trilogy’s casting directors.

Speaking to the Huffington Post, casting director Amy Hubbard confirmed that it was David Bowie who director Peter Jackson originally wanted to play Gandalf, but the singer was sadly too busy.

Image caption Ian McKellen won’t officiate your wedding dressed as Gandalf, no matter how rich you are

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, McKellen said: “I was offered one-and- a-half million dollars to marry a very famous couple in California, which I would perhaps have considered doing but I had to go dressed as Gandalf.

Continue reading: Sir Ian McKellen 'Turned Down £1 Million' To Officiate Wedding Dressed As Gandalf

From 'Romeo + Juliet' To Macbeth: 11 Of The Best William Shakespeare Adaptations In Cinema History

By Holly Williams in Movies / TV / Theatre on 07 April 2016

William Shakespeare Ian McKellen Leonardo Dicaprio Michael Fassbender Kenneth Branagh

His work lives on 400 years after his death.

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the world's most renowned playwright William Shakespeare, we reflect on the best interpretations of his work that have ever hit the big screen. From all Kenneth Branagh's flawless performances to Baz Luhrmann's brave modern adaptation, these are simply the best moments of Shakespeare in cinema.

Image caption 'Henry V' was Kenneth Branagh's directorial debut

1. Henry V (1989): Kenneth Branagh's directorial debut and a career he never looked back from since, 'Henry V' was followed by 'Much Ado About Nothing', 'Hamlet' and 'Love's Labour's Lost'. Branagh has starred in every Shakespeare film he's directed apart from 'As You Like It', and directed every Shakespearean film he's ever starred in apart from 'Othello'. 'Henry V' won Best Costume Design at the Oscars, with nominations for Best Director and Actor.

Continue reading: From 'Romeo + Juliet' To Macbeth: 11 Of The Best William Shakespeare Adaptations In Cinema History

Dustin Lance Black Reminds Sam Smith He's Not The First Openly Gay Oscar Winner

By Stephanie Chase in Music / Festivals on 29 February 2016

Sam Smith Dustin Lance Black Tom Daley Ian McKellen

Smith took home the best original song award for 'Spectre' theme ‘Writings On The Wall’.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black gave Sam Smith a very public reminder that he’s not the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, after the singer made the faux pas during his acceptance speech at Sunday night’s ceremony. Black, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay in 2009 for Milk, tweeted Smith after his speech, also telling the singer to stop texting his fiancé, British diver Tom Daley.

Image caption Sam Smith and ‘Writings On The Wall’ co-writer Jimmy Napes.

“Hey @SamSmithWorld, if you have no idea who I am, it may be time to stop texting my fiancé,” Black tweeted, while also including a link to a video of his 2009 win.

Continue reading: Dustin Lance Black Reminds Sam Smith He's Not The First Openly Gay Oscar Winner

From Ian McKellen To Ellen Page: 15 Gay Actors Who Usually Have Straight Roles

By Holly Williams in Movies / TV / Theatre on 26 January 2016

Ian McKellen Ellen Page Neil Patrick Harris Andrew Scott Matt Bomer

They're all openly gay, but you might not know it with some of them.

Ian McKellen has offered his own opinion about diversity in Hollywood following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. He believes that it's not only black people who are being overlooked in the film industry, but gay actors too; especially since straight stars have indeed won Oscars for playing gay men (Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sean Penn) but never the other way round.

More: Ian McKellen talks LGBT rights

It is more frequent than one first might believe that gay people in the acting world are often playing straight roles - sometimes exclusively - and there are very few who have found themselves playing only gay characters. Here are just a few gay stars who've played gay roles in their careers:

Continue reading: From Ian McKellen To Ellen Page: 15 Gay Actors Who Usually Have Straight Roles

Hiroyuki Sanada, Sir Ian McKellen, Laura Linney and Milo Parker - 65th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) - 'Mr. Holmes' - Photocall - Berlin, Germany - Sunday 8th February 2015

Ian McKellen - Opening night after party for the Culture Project production of The Seagull, held at B. Bar and Grill-arrivals. - New York, NY, United States - Monday 14th October 2013

Ian McKellen - Sir Ian McKellen and Guest Sunday 15th November 2009 at Grosvenor House London, England