Sir Ian McKellen – A Wizard of Arts
Born on May 25, 1939, Sir Ian McKellen CH CBE is an English actor who has been named a national British Icon. He is one of the world’s most popular actors, having been in the public light for more than seven decades.
Sir McKellen is one of the few remaining World War II survivors who were close to the 9/11 incident in New York, US. When he was asked how he could remain so calm during such a crisis he replied “Well, darling, you forget—I slept under a steel plate until I was four years old”.
Early Acting Stints
In 1961, he made his career debut at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, in a theatrical called A Man for all Seasons. He would continue his acting roles in local and national theatres, mostly in Shakespearian plays.
He moved to Broadway but continued his love for the theatre, where he became popular as an actor, even winning awards for his skills. Including the Tony Award for Best Actor in a play.
Onto the Big Screen
In 1969, Sir McKellen made his debut on the screen, appearing in three films: Michael Hayes’s The Promise, Clive Donner’s epic film Alfred the Great, and Waris Hussein’s A Touch of Love.
He went on to bigger roles now appearing alongside Will Smith in the film Six Degrees of Separation, and later with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Last Action Hero.
Sir McKellen wrote his first screenplay in 1995, Richard III, in which he starred alongside Robert Downey Jr. The film won acclaim from the critics and he was nominated for many awards including BAFTA, and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor, and he won the European Film Awards for Best Actor.
Super Villain and Wizard
Between 2000 and 2007, Sir McKellen moved between sets, filming almost simultaneously, the X-Men Franchise, in which he played Magneto, appearing in all parts of the trilogy. He was filmed as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the same period.
Sir McKellen reprised the role of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Hobbit starting with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), followed by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and finally The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
Sir McKellen also reprised his dual role as Erik Lehnsherr and Magneto in the X-men Franchise release of The Wolverine (2013), and Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
He has been nominated 27 times of which he has won seven awards.
In 1988, Sir McKellen declared himself gay to the world, and has since become an active lobbyist for gay rights. He founded the Stonewall society in honor of the Stone Wall riots.
He declared on his website:
“I have been reluctant to lobby on other issues I most care about—nuclear weapons (against), religion (atheist), capital punishment (anti), AIDS (fund-raiser) because I never want to be forever spouting, diluting the impact of addressing my most urgent concern; legal and social equality for gay people worldwide”
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