Ian McKellen, biography, news, photos

Ian McKellen
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Name: Ian McKellen

Real name: Sir Ian Murray McKellen

Birth date: 25 of May 1939 (80 y.o.)

Place of birth: Burnley, Lancashire, England

Height: 185 cm Weight: 90 kg

Birth Sign: Gemini

Chinese zodiac: Rabbit

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Category: Actors biographies

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Ian McKellen’s biography

Ian McKellen’s creative development guarantees him a place in the pantheon of the great Britons. The roles of Nicholas II, King Richard, Magneto, and The Wizard Gandalf made the British actor one of the best film stars in the world.
In the photo: Ian McKellen
In the photo: Ian McKellen

Early years

Ian Murray McKellen comes from the county of Lancashire. He was born on May 25, 1939 in the family of a civil engineer who, like his father and grandfather, was a preacher, not ordained to the priesthood.

Ian’s first years fell on wartime in the town of Wigan, where the family had to move, getting away from German air raids. But the echoes of exploding bombs could be heard even in Wigan, and according to the actor himself, only after the end of the war he understood what silence is.
Ian McKellen in his youth
Ian McKellen in his youth
Ian’s mother died of consumption when the boy was 12 years old and his sister Jane was 14, and soon his father married again. His stepmother Gladys became a close friend of Ian, who had no friends in the class: the boy studied perfectly and schoolmates took his shyness for haughtiness.

Theater. McKellen’s Golden Era

Brilliantly graduating from school in 1956, Ian received the right to get a scholarship for further education. The young man entered the course of English literature at St-Catherine, one of the most ancient colleges in Cambridge, where he became a member of the troupe of the student theater of the Marlow Theater Society, which was then already well-known throughout Britain. The love of the stage won the thirst for knowledge, and by the end of tuition Ian lost his scholarship right.
The love of the stage won the thirst for knowledge
The love of the stage won the thirst for knowledge
The young man graduated from the university, having played many roles in Marlow, and in 1961 received a place at the Belgrade Theater in Coventry with a payment of only £ 9 a week. A year later, he played at the Ipswich Theatre, in one more year ‒ in Nottingham, and three years later Ian McKellen was invited to one of the theaters of the West End, nicknamed London’s Broadway.

McKellen’s London debut took place in the production by James Saunders called A Scent of Flowers and entered the history of the theater as one of the most triumphal performances. The audience called the young actor for an encore 15 times!
McKellen’s London debut took place in the production by James Saunders called A Scent of Flowers
McKellen’s London debut took place in the production by James Saunders called A Scent of Flowers
In 1962, McKellen played one of the leading roles in the production of great Zeffirelli Much Ado About Nothing. “Everything is very simple, dear, you step on stage and make the audience fall in love with you,” Zeffirelli told Ian right before the premiere. The part of Claudio, performed by McKellen, forever gave him the fame as one of the most talented actors who ever played in the English theatre.

For ten years, a young and talented actor grew into an independent and unique artist. McKellen’s deep dramatic talent and his interpretation of the characters of classic works always caused explosions of emotions, publications in The Sunday Time and The Guardian.
A young and talented actor grew into an independent and unique artist
A young and talented actor grew into an independent and unique artist
In 1978, McKellen was named Best Theater Actor of the Year, and in 1979, on his birthday, he received a gift from Elizabeth II. The actor was presented the Commander medal.
In 1979, the actor was presented the Commander medal
In 1979, the actor was presented the Commander medal
The period from 1965 to 1990 was named the Golden Era of the modern English theater due to Ian McKellen’s performance, who was sparkling in such productions as Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, The Cherry Orchard, Macbeth and Othello.
Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen
In 1989, the Queen knighted McKellen.

Cinema. First roles

In the 60s, Ian accepted offers from film directors in order to improve his financial situation. Salary, which he received then in provincial theaters, was enough only for housing payment.

The first most notable works of the young actor in the cinema were the part of David Copperfield in the 1966 television series of the same name, the part of George in the 1969 drama A Touch of Love, in which his partner was Sandy Dennis, and the role of the poet John Keats in the 1970 biographical film called Solo.
Ian McKellen in the television series about David Copperfield
Ian McKellen in the television series about David Copperfield
Becoming an English theater star, McKellen unwillingly agreed to play in the films. At that time only the stage attracted the actor, but later he changed his attitude. In the period from 1983 to 1995, Sir Ian gradually began to enjoy participating in the films, plunging into the special atmosphere of the set, which he would later call magical.

In the 1982 adventure television series about the events of the French Revolution period, McKellen played as the head of the secret police, obsessed with catching the elusive rebel, played by Anthony Andrews. Jane Seymour and James Willers also starred in the series The Scarlet Pimpernel.
 McKellen played as the head of the secret police in the 1982 adventure television series
McKellen played as the head of the secret police in the 1982 adventure television series
In the historical drama of 1989 Scandal, the actor played as Profumo, the Secretary of State for War, whose career was ruined by love-affair with a call girl. The role of the prostitute was performed by beauty Joanne Whalley, familiar to us for the role of Scarlett in the television series of the same name. The film also starred John Hurt and Bridget Fonda.

In the films The Ballad of Little Jo and Six Degrees of Separation Heather Graham, Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland kept Ian company. The melodramatic comedy Cold Comfort Farm, released in 1994, was the forerunner of McKellen’s future triumph. In this film he played with Kate Beckinsale, Rufus Sewell and Stephen Fry.

Lead roles

In 1995, Sir Ian wrote the screenplay based on the play Richard III, in which he transferred the action of Shakespeare’s work to Britain of the 30s. In the film, McKellen played as King Richard, and it is considered his first major work in the films. Maggie Smith and Jim Broadbent also played in the picture.
Shot from the film Richard III
Shot from the film Richard III
In the historical drama of 1996 Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny the actor played the role of the last Russian monarch Nicholas II and received the Golden Globe. Alan Rickman played as Rasputin.
Ian McKellen in the film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny
Ian McKellen in the film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny
In the horrible and moving drama Bent, the main idea of which is a person’s need for love, that is mostly manifested in unthinkably tragic circumstances and helps a person to survive even in the hell of a fascist concentration camp, McKellen made a brilliant ensemble with Clive Owen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lothaire Bluteau and Paul Bettany.

Playing the lead role in the 1998 thriller Apt Pupil, directed by Brian Singer and based on the novel by Stephen King, brought McKellen the Saturn Award.
Shot from the film Apt Pupil
Shot from the film Apt Pupil
The 2000s presented the world a franchise X-Men that became the most profitable of all ever existed, and the most favorite. In all the films about the clash of ordinary people and mutant people, McKellen played as Eric Lehnsherr, who once discovered in himself the ability to influence objects with the power of thought. Becoming an adult, Magneto tries to seize power in the human world. Sir Ian’s partners, who attracted the attention of the viewers with his invincible charisma, were Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen and Halle Berry.
X-Men ‒ Trailer
The role of Magneto’s antagonist was performed by an old friend of McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart. It is their duo that is called the real reason for the unprecedented popularity of the franchise. It is an amazing fact, but the two British aristocrats, who then turned seventh decade, instantly gained fame, which the Hollywood macho never dreamed of.

In the famous film saga The Lord of the Rings, the first part of which was released in 2001, McKellen played as the magician Gandalf. Peter Jackson initially considered Sean Connery and Sir Patrick Stewart, but both candidates were not approved for various reasons.
Ian McKellen in the film The Lord of the Rings
Ian McKellen in the film The Lord of the Rings
Performing this role, McKellen used all his gift and skills to make Forest Wizard not just a vivid character of the saga, but the most favorite and truly magical. Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and others also took part in the legendary saga. However, only Sir Ian was nominated for an Academy Award.
Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom
Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom
Continuing to star in both the longest and most successful franchises in the history of Hollywood, the actor managed to work in the theater and take part in other projects. In 2006, the actor entered The Da Vinci Code star cast . In the picture, which became the highest-grossing film of the year, McKellen played as Leigh Teabing, who was crazy about searching for the Holy Grail. On the set his partners were Tom Hanks, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany and such french stars as Jean Reno and Audrey Tautou.
Shot from the film The Da Vinci Code
Shot from the film The Da Vinci Code
A big success in Europe was the hooligan project of 2013 called Vicious, both seasons of which told about the relationship between two gays who finally decided to get married after half a century of living together.
Ian McKellen in the series Vicious
Ian McKellen in the series Vicious
The series turned out subtle, moving and very funny, and the participation of such British film stars as Sir Derek Jacobi, who played the role of Iain’s lover, as well as Francis De La Tour and Judi Dench, made it a model of the English sitcom.

In 2015, the criminal drama Mr. Holmes was released, in which the famous detective appears as an aging sad gentleman who is afraid of the first symptoms of dementia and is trying to solve an old case. The film also starred Laura Linney.
Mr. Holmes ‒ Trailer
At the end of the same year, a dramatized drama The Dresser was released, in which Emily Watson and Sir Anthony Hopkins joined Sir Ian.

Ian McKellen’s personal life

One of the most influential actors in Britain realized his homosexuality early. His first lover was history teacher Brian Taylor. Their relationship began in 1965 and lasted until 1973.
McKellen’s first lover was a history teacher
McKellen’s first lover was a history teacher
After a long break, the actor’s choice became the young actor Sean Mathias, whom McKellen met on the set of the series Scarlet Pimpernel in 1982. Sean played a bit part in the series and studied to be a film director.
Sean Mathias and Ian McKellen
Sean Mathias and Ian McKellen
In 1988, in an interview with the BBC, the actor admitted that he was gay. This fact did not prevent him from receiving a knighthood a year later.

In 1997, Sean Mathias shot his only masterpiece ‒ the film Bent. McKellen performed one of the leading roles in the drama, but by that time the relationship between him and Mathias had already ended.

Since 2016, McKellen has often appeared with another British Sir, an actor and his old friend Patrick Stewart. In 2013, Ian was a witness at his wedding with the American singer Sunny Ozell. Sir Patrick does not hide that he is bisexual, and both the geniuses of the English stage openly laugh at too curious fans.
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart
Leaving the restaurant in the fall of 2017, they started hugging and suddenly gave away private relationship to a reporter who had accidentally tracked them down.
Too many people are busy with hanging the labels gay, bisexual, heterosexual, lover instead of remembering that there is attachment, respect and friendship in the world.
In 2012, McKellen was given a disappointing diagnosis of prostate cancer, but the actor managed to be cured in some miraculous way. Since then he has not been bothered by health problems. After recovery, Sir Ian became a vegetarian, but did not quit smoking.
After having health problems, Ian still continues to smoke
After having health problems, Ian still continues to smoke
The actor is an activist and fighter for freedom of choice, known for his harsh criticism of policy towards the LGBT community.

Ian McKellen now

In 2017, the family musical romantic drama Beauty and the Beast was released, in which the actor played in company with Ewan McGregor and Luke Evans, as well as Emma Watson.
Beauty and the Beast(2017) ‒ Trailer
Since the beginning of 2018, the film The Good Liar is being shot. The plot of the picture is based on Nicholas Searle’s work. McKellen plays the part of an elderly fraudster, who, introducing oneself as a businessman, on the Internet meets a rich widow, performed by Helen Mirren. Preparing to crank up the biggest swindle in his life, Roy falls in love with the lady who also poses as not the one she claims to be. The premiere is scheduled for 2019. The exact date is not announced.
In addition, for 2019 Ian McKellen’s solo show performances are scheduled that will be held in 80 cities in Britain in the year of his eightieth birthday.
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