British actor Damian Lewis has apologised to Sir Ian McKellen after he appeared to mock the veteran movie star in an interview.

In a chat with Britain's The Guardian newspaper earlier this year (13), the Homeland star remarked that he didn't want to become "one of those slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards".

Although he did not refer to any individual by name, many fans assumed his comments were directed at MCKellen, who plays wizard Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings film franchises.

MCKellen hit back this month (Dec13) by aiming a scathing remark at the Emmy winner, and Lewis has now issued a statement apologising for his comments, insisting they should never have been linked to the veteran thespian.

He says, "I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian MCKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 - it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career. I have contacted Sir Ian MCKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies."