Ian McKellen

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Ian McKellen in 2013

Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. With a career spanning more than six decades, he is known for his roles on the screen and stage in genres ranging from Shakespearean dramas and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. He is regarded as a British cultural icon and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. He has received numerous accolades, including a Tony Award, six Olivier Awards, and a Golden Globe Award as well as nominations for two Academy Awards, five BAFTA Awards and five Emmy Awards.


  • Any actor who has had his marriage photographed by the press has proclaimed his heterosexuality. Now, apart from one member of the House of Commons [Chris Smith], there are no gay members of the House of Commons? There are no gay members of the House of Lords? This is the times we are living in. That homosexuality is an invisible minority. Of course it's a minority. I would claim that it is between 5-10% of the population. Not converted to it, born with it, happy with it, would like to live with it, inoffensively and contributing to society. You [Peregrine Worsthorne] suspect they might be corrupting society.
  • You must accept that there are very very few famous homosexuals in this country. There are no sportsmen who declare that they are gay because they don't like to because they are frightened of what will happen to them. And this is the area in which schoolchildren, to get back to the Bill, the schoolchildren who having no role models in society discover, fear, that they are gay, they go to their parents where they get a dusty answer, they go automatically, of course, to the other adults in their lives, they go to their teachers. And their teachers need to be in a position to be able to discuss that sexuality and reassure them that it is not against the law, it is not wrong and they must feel at ease with it, if they have decided at the end of their experimentation with their sexuality that they are one thing or the other. And this Bill will restrict dangerously that perfectly proper activity of the schools.
  • I think this country will be a healthier place if people in public life who are gay, announce that they are gay and left it at that so that the majority in society would understand that homosexuals are their friends, their supporters and a major contribution to the cultural and healthy life of this nation.
  • I think this is why a lot of actors, at least in the past, have been gay: the only place where they could be themselves, express themselves, at a time when it was illegal [...] to be homosexual, was in public, protected by the play. You could come up with real emotions for real situations but not of course your own.
  • There aren't many plays in which a character says "Has the doctor looked at my sample yet?" He knows he is old, that soon he will die. The Henry plays are the great England plays: you get a sense of the country from top to bottom, from monarch to prostitute, from Westminster to Cheapside. But they are also about death. The plays are immortal and I am not. So I hitch a lift on the back.
  • [I]n the theatre, life is happening now. That's Falstaff's first word: "Now!" It's not reported life, it's life right there.
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