May. 25th, 1939
Burnley, Lancashire, England, UK
Ian McKellen's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
On May 25th, 1939, in the town of Burnley in northern England, Ian Murray McKellen was born. His parents, Denis and Margery, soon moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the coal mining town of Wigan. It was in this small town that young Ian rode out World War II. He soon developed a fascination with acting and the theater, which was encouraged by his parents. They would all bring him to plays, those by William Shakespeare (I), in particular. The amateur school productions fostered Ian's growing passion for theatre. When Ian was of age to begin attending school, he made sure to get roles in all of the productions. At Bolton School in particular, he developed his skills early on. Indeed, his first role in a Shakespearian play was at Bolton, as Malvolio in "Twelfth Night". Ian soon began attending Stratford-upon-Avon theater festivals, where he saw the greats perform: Laurence Olivier, Wendy Hiller, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson (I) and Paul Robeson. He continued his education in English Drama, but soon it fell by the wayside as he concentrated more and more on performing. He eventually obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1961, and began his career in earnest. McKellen began working in theatre over the next few years. Very few people knew of Ian's homosexuality; he saw no reason to go public, nor had he told his family. They did not seem interested in the subject and so he saw no reason to bring it up. In 1988, Ian publicly came out of the closet on the BBC Radio 4 program, while discussing Margaret Thatcher's "section 28" legislation which would make the "public promotion of homosexuality" a crime. It was reason enough for McKellen to take a stand, and he has been active in the Gay Rights movement ever since.
Ian currently resides in Limehouse, where he lives with his current lover of 8 years, Sean Mathias. The two worked together on the film Bent (1997). To this day, McKellen works mostly in theater, and was knighted by 'Queen Elizabeth' in 1990 for his efforts in the arts. However, he has managed to make several quite successful forays into film. He has appeared in several productions of Shakespeare's works including his well received Richard III (1995), and in a variety of other movies. However, it has only been recently that his star has finally begun to shine in the eyes of North American audiences. Roles in various films, Cold Comfort Farm (1995) (TV), Apt Pupil (1998) and Gods and Monsters (1998), riveted audiences. The latter, in particular, created a sensation in Hollywood, and McKellen's role garnered him several of awards and nominations,including a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod. McKellen continues to work extensively on stage... solidifying his role as Laurence Olivier's worthy successor,having recently scored hits in the London productions of "Peter Pan" and Noel Coward's "Present Laughter".
- Has played both a Holocaust victim (_X-Men (2000)_ (qv)) and a Nazi (_Apt Pupil (1998)_ (qv), both in movies directed by 'Bryan Singer' (qv).
- Has worked with two Faramirs. Prior to appearing in The Lord of the Rings films with 'David Wenham' (qv), he appeared in the film _Plenty (1985)_ (qv), with 'Andrew Seear' (qv). Seear played Faramir in the BBC radio adaptation, opposite 'Ian Holm' (qv).
- Shares his middle name, Murray, with both 'Michael Hordern' (qv) (Michael Murray Hordern), his predecessor in the role of Gandalf, and 'F. Murray Abraham' (qv), his successor in the role of 'Antonio Salieri' (qv).
- Has played cult characters in two of the biggest franchises; he played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Magneto in the X-Men series.
- He was awarded the 1989 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actor for his performance in "Othello".
- Appears in "The Lord of the Rings" and "X-Men", both of which required a lead character to be recast soon after production started. In "The Lord of the Rings", 'Stuart Townsend' (qv) was replaced by 'Viggo Mortensen' (qv), and in _X-Men (2000)_ (qv), 'Dougray Scott' (qv) was replaced by 'Hugh Jackman' (qv).
- Originally aspired to be a journalist.
- Ranked #45 in the 2008 Telegraph's list "the 100 most powerful people in British culture".