Ian McKellen

Actor, Screenwriter, Producer
Long considered to be one of the greatest British stage actors of all time, Sir Ian McKellen initially had surprising difficulty translating his immense talents to film and television. After spending his youth absorbing ... Read more »
Born: 05/24/1939 in Lancashire, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (95)

Cinemaniacs 2015 - 2016 (Tv Show)

Himself

Real Time with Bill Maher 2003 - 2006, 2015 - 2016 (Tv Show)

Actor

Mr. Holmes 2015 (Movie)

Sherlock Holmes (Actor)

Noel 2015 (Movie)

(in talks) (Actor)

Vicious 2013 - 2015 (TV Show)

Actor

Displaced 2014 (Movie)

(Voice)

Late Night with Seth Meyers 2014 (Tv Show)

Performer

Miss In Her Teens 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014 (Movie)

Gandalf (Actor)

X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014 (Movie)

Magneto (Actor)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013 (Movie)

Gandalf (Actor)

The Late Show With David Letterman 2013 (Tv Show)

Guest

Doctor Who 2012 (Tv Show)

Voice

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012 (Movie)

Gandalf (Actor)

The British Academy Film Awards 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

The Prisoner 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

2008 Brit Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The British Academy Film Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Extras 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Stardust 2007 (Movie)

Narrator (Actor)

The Golden Compass 2007 (Movie)

Voice of Iorek Byrnison (Actor)

Doogal 2006 (Movie)

Voice of Zebedee (Actor)

Flushed Away 2006 (Movie)

Voice of The Toad (Actor)

For the Love of God 2006 (Movie)

(Actor)

Saint of 9/11 2006 (Movie)

(Narrator)

The Da Vinci Code 2006 (Movie)

Sir Leigh Teabing (Actor)

X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 (Movie)

Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Actor)

Asylum 2005 (Movie)

Dr. Peter Cleave (Actor)

Emile 2005 (Movie)

Emile (Actor)

Neverwas 2005 (Movie)

Gabriel Finch (Actor)

The Magic Roundabout 2005 (Movie)

Voice of Zebedee (Actor)

2004 IFP/Independent Spirit Awards 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Ringers: Lord of the Fans 2004 (Movie)

(Actor)

The 76th Annual Academy Awards 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003 (Movie)

Gandalf (Actor)

The Simpsons 2003 (Tv Show)

Voice

X-Pose: X2 Mutants Uncovered 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

X2: X-Men United 2003 (Movie)

Eric Lensherr/Magneto (Actor)

Inside the Actors Studio 2002 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

The 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

The 74th Annual Academy Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002 (Movie)

Gandalf (Actor)

The Orange British Academy Film Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man 2000 (Movie)

(Narrator)

David Copperfield 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

X-Men 2000 (Movie)

Magneto (Actor)

X-Men: The Mutant Watch 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The Book That Wrote Itself 1999 (Movie)

(cameo appearance) (Actor)

Apt Pupil 1998 (Movie)

Kurt Dussander (Actor)

Gods and Monsters 1998 (Movie)

James Whale (Actor)

Swept From the Sea 1998 (Movie)

Dr James Kennedy (Actor)

Bent 1997 (Movie)

Uncle Freddie (Actor)

A Bit of Scarlet 1996 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Cold Comfort Farm 1996 (Movie)

Amos Starkadder (Actor)

Jack and Sarah 1996 (Movie)

William (Actor)

Rasputin (Hbo) 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Heaven's a Drag 1995 (Movie)

Quilt Documentary Narrator (Actor)

Restoration 1995 (Movie)

Will Gates (Actor)

Richard III 1995 (Movie)

Richard III (Actor)

Thin Ice 1995 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

City 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Voice

I'll Do Anything 1994 (Movie)

John Earle McAlpine (Actor)

Out There 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The Shadow 1994 (Movie)

Reinhardt Lane (Actor)

Armistead Maupin Is a Man I Dreamt Up 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Narrator

Last Action Hero 1993 (Movie)

Death (Actor)

Living Shakespeare: A Year With the RSC 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Six Degrees of Separation 1993 (Movie)

Geoffrey (Actor)

The Ballad of Little Jo 1993 (Movie)

Percy Corcoran (Actor)

Camp Christmas 1992 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The 46th Annual Tony Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Scandal 1989 (Movie)

John Profumo (Actor)

Sidney Sheldon's "Windmills of the Gods" 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Plenty 1985 (Movie)

Sir Andrew Charleson (Actor)

Zina 1984 (Movie)

Professor Kronfeld (Actor)

Dying Day 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Hamlet 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Loving Walter 1982 (Movie)

Walter (Actor)

The Keep 1982 (Movie)

Dr Cuza (Actor)

Priest of Love 1981 (Movie)

D H Lawrence (Actor)

Alfred the Great 1969 (Movie)

Roger (Actor)

And the Band Played On (TV Show)

Actor

Suleyman the Magnificent (TV Show)

Narrator

The Colossus (Movie)

Cecil Rhodes (Actor)

The Scarlet Pimpernel (TV Show)

Actor
Writer (1)

Richard III 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Producer (1)

Richard III 1995 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Biography

Long considered to be one of the greatest British stage actors of all time, Sir Ian McKellen initially had surprising difficulty translating his immense talents to film and television. After spending his youth absorbing the theatre as a spectator and later performer, he emerged from the prestigious University of Cambridge as a celebrated actor, performing all the major Shakespeare roles while making an auspicious professional debut in "A Man for All Seasons" (1961). He spent the ensuing decades amassing an impressive résumé and accumulating awards, but had very little to show on the screen, save for several British made-for-television movies and a few under-performing films. Deciding to make his own luck, McKellen produced and starred in a 1930s-set adaptation of "Richard III" (1995), in which he delivered a sterling performance that led to an Oscar-nominated turn in "Gods and Monsters" (1998). Hollywood was finally forced to stand up and take notice. Though it took until he reached his sixties, McKellen began appearing in huge blockbusters, including all three installments of "The Lord of the Rings" (2001-03), "X-Men" (2000, 2003, 2006) and "The Hobbit" (2012-14) franchises, with the former earning him his second Academy Award nomination and confirming him as one of the greatest British talents of his generation.

Relationships

Rupert Everett Actor

Companion
Everett claimed he slept with McKellen in his 2007 memoir Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins

Sean Mathias Actor

Companion
Met 1978 Split 1988 Mathias directed McKellen in "Waiting For Godot" at the Theatre Royal Haymarket 2009

Denis McKellen

Father
Married Gladys McKellen after wife's death Died 1963 in a car crash, a week after seeing son make his West End debut

Margery McKellen

Mother
Died when Ian was 12 years old

Gladys McKellen

Step-Mother

Jean McKellen

Sister
Born c. 1934

Brian Taylor

Companion
Dated and co-habitated 1964-1972 No longer together

EDUCATION

Bolton School

Bolton

University of Cambridge

Cambridge , England 1961
Won a scholarship to St. Catharine's College of Cambridge; acted in several undergraduate productions with fellow students Derek Jacobi and Trevor Nunn

Milestones

2012

Returned to Middle Earth as Gandalf in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and directed by Peter Jackson

2009

Production of "King Lear" broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 4 and shown on PBS in America; earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actor in a Television movie

2009

Starred as the charismatic, delicately despotic boss Two in the six-hour AMC miniseries "The Prisoner"; earned Emmy (2010) nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

2009

Appeared in a revival of "Waiting for Godot" at London's Haymarket Theatre; starred opposite Patrick Stewart

2007

Returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company for the productions of "King Lear" and "The Seagull"; both directed by Trevor Nunn

2006

Reprised the role of Magneto for "X-Men: The Last Stand"

2006

Received an Emmy nomination for appearing as himself on an episode of HBO series "Extras"

2006

Portrayed Holy Grail historian, Sir Leigh Teabing, in Ron Howard's film adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code"

2005

Co-starred with Natasha Richardson in the psychological thriller "Asylum"

2003

Once again played Magneto in "X2"

2001

Returned to Broadway opposite Helen Mirren in "The Dance of Death"

2001

Portrayed the wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson's film adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; all were filmed back-to-back: "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001); "The Two Towers" (2002), and "The Return of the King" (2003)

2000

Re-teamed with Bryan Singer for the big-screen version of the Marvel comic's "X-Men"; played the villain Magneto

1998

Portrayed James Whale, the British expatriate film director of "Frankenstein" (1931) and "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), in "Gods and Monsters"; earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination

1998

Starred in the Los Angeles stage production of "An Enemy of the People"

1998

Played Kurt Dussander, a former concentration camp officer, in Bryan Singer's "Apt Pupil"

1997

Had an extended cameo as Uncle Freddie in the film version of "Bent"

1996

Portrayed Czar Nicholas II of Russia in the HBO film "Rasputin"; garnered second Emmy nomination

1995

Cast as a servant to Robert Downey Jr.'s Robert Merival in "Restoration"

1995

Wrote screenplay, executive produced, and starred in "Richard III"; directed by Richard Loncraine; moved setting to 1930s Europe

1993

Had small role in the PBS miniseries "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City"

1993

Played AIDS activist Bill Kraus in "And the Band Played On" (HBO); earned Emmy nomination

1993

Landed cameo role as 'Death' in "The Last Action Hero"

1991

Embarked on world tour alternating as "Richard III" and Kent in "King Lear"

1991

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the performing arts

1990

Played the title role in "Richard III"; directed by Richard Eyre at the National Theater; also served as associate producer

1989

Starred as John Profumo in Michael Caton-Jones' "Scandal"

1986

Portrayed a British diplomat in one scene of the screen adaptation of David Hare's "Plenty"

1984

Returned to Broadway in for the short-lived production of "Wild Honey"

1983

Appeared under much makeup as an elderly doctor in "The Keep"

1983

Reprised "Acting Shakespeare" on Broadway; received Tony nomination

1982

"Acting Shakespeare" filmed for TV broadcast

1982

Undertook the role of the villain Chauvelin in the CBS TV-movie "The Scarlet Pimpernel"

1982

Earned acclaim playing a mentally challenged man in British TV movie "Walter," directed by Stephen Frears

1980

Won a Tony Award playing Salieri in the Broadway production of "Amadeus"

1980

Toured sporadically throughout U.S. and Europe in "Acting Shakespeare"

1980

Portrayed novelist D. H. Lawrence in the film biopic "Priest of Love"

1979

Portrayed Max, a gay man who pretends to be Jewish when captured by the Nazis, in "Bent" at the Royal Court Theatre in London

1977

Wrote the one-person show "Acting Shakespeare," which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival

1976

First stage collaboration with college chum Trevor Nunn, "Romeo and Juliet"

1976

Had stage triumph as "Macbeth" opposite Judi Dench; reprised role opposite Dench in 1979 TV production

1974

Returned to the NYC stage as Edgar in "King Lear"; performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music

1972

Founded and served as a director with Actors' Company

1969

Starred in the one-person TV production "Keats," based on the life of the Romantic poet John Keats

1969

First played "Hamlet" in BBC production

1968

Played first onscreen homosexual in "A Touch of Love/Thank You All Very Much"

1968

Stage directorial debut, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" at Liverpool Playhouse

1968

Made feature debut reprising his stage role in film version of "The Promise" (released only in the U.K.)

1967

Originated role of Leonidik in the London production of "The Promise" opposite Judi Dench; made NYC debut in same role opposite Eileen Atkins

1966

Made American TV debut in serialized version of "David Copperfield"; played title character

1966

Cast in first film role in "The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-Ling-a-Ling"; film never completed

1965

Appeared as Claudio in Franco Zeffirelli's staging of "Much Ado About Nothing"

1965

Co-starred with Lynn Redgrave in the British TV production of "Sunday Out of Season"

1964

London stage debut, "A Scent of Flowers"

1964

Made TV acting debut on episode of the British series "Kipling"

1962

Spent a season as member of the Ipswich Repertory company

1961

Professional stage debut, a production of "A Man for All Seasons" at the Nottingham Playhouse

Acted in school plays at Bolton

Spent summers at camp at Stratford-Upon-Avon as a teen; attended Shakespearean productions in evenings

Made Shakesperean debut in "Coriolanus"

Bonus Trivia

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In 1988, McKellen declared himself as a gay man on a BBC Radio program where he debated the controversial LGBT subject of Section 28 with the conservative journalist Peregrine Worsthorne.

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He received honorary degrees from University of Nottingham in 1989 and from University of Aberdeen in 1993.

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"McKellen's is not the face of a leading man; instead, there's a naturally supercilious sculpting of features, eyebrows poised in irony." – Lawrence O'Toole in the New York Times magazine, April 5, 1992

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"Villains are often the best parts." – McKellen quoted in Time Out New York, Oct. 29/Nov. 5, 1998

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"Ian is someone all actors should feel proud of because he shows what integrity an actor can have. He's open about his sexuality, he's a great artist and he exudes love and joy." – Annette Bening quoted in USA Today, Nov. 4, 1998

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"I need acting much less than I used to. I think that's connected with my public coming out ten years ago." – McKellen quoted in Interview magazine, November 1998

.

Not everyone was an admirer of McKellen's work. In The Chicago Tribune (Jan. 13, 2002), Richard Christiansen wrote: "The great ones – John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Alec Guinness – are all gone, and now we're left with Ian McKellen to serve as a prime example of English stage performance. Well, he's OK. He's capable of reining in his hamminess to present a respectable portrayal, but there are times when his elaborate rhetoric drowns the character in a sea of elocution. And he has yet to give the kind of towering performance that can define a great actor's career."

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"Nobody really looks to Hollywood for the truth about the modern world. They're in the fantasy business. They don't know what's going on, even within their own city." – McKellen quoted in Empire magazine, May 2006

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In December 2012, McKellen revealed he had prostate cancer. The actor also said he was diagnosed six or seven years prior, but it was not life-threatening.

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