Sir Ian McKellen was mistaken for a beggar by a passer-by.

The veteran actor was amazed to be given money after he stepped outside a theatre in Melbourne, Australia, where he was taking a break from rehearsing his role of Estragon in 'Waiting for Godot'.

He revealed: "During the dress rehearsal of 'Godot', I crouched by the stage door of the Comedy Theatre, getting some air, my bowler hat at my feet and seeing an unkempt old man down on his luck, a passer-by said, 'Need some help, brother?' and put a dollar in my hat. I hope the Melbourne audiences will be as generous."

The 70-year-old star has kept the coin he was given in the hope it will bring him luck with the production, in which he has previously appeared in London.

He added: "The dollar coin is now lodged between two drawing pins on the board above my dressing room mirror. My lucky talisman."

While the stranger didn't recognise Ian, the 'Lord Of The Rings' star has had a long and prolific career, and was recently crowned the Empire Icon for his achievements.

The actor was presented with the accolade by Patrick Stewart and Roger Rees at the Jameson Empire Film Awards 2010 earlier this year, where he admitted it was never his ambition to be a movie star.

He said: "My dears, I'm terribly pleased to be here. I always set out to be a stage actor, but rather late in the day I made films that people actually saw - so let that be an inspiration to those of you who have not yet stood up here receiving one of these."