Ian McKellen’s biographyIan 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.
Early yearsIan 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.
Theater. McKellen’s Golden EraBrilliantly 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.
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!
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.
Cinema. First rolesIn 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 a 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.
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.
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 rolesIn 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ian McKellen’s personal lifeOne 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.
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.