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.
Ian McKellen: 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.
Ian McKellen: 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.
Ian McKellen: 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.