From Shakespeare to film star, Sir Ian McKellan today is a household name—but it hasn’t always been this way. We chat Gandalf, gay activism and Widow Twankey.
Thanks to his wonderful portrayal of a 7,000-year-old wizard in Lord of the Rings and a mutant called Magneto in the X-Men series, Sir Ian McKellen is now one of the world’s most sought after film actors—as well as the leading British stage actor of his generation.
But the working class boy who grew up in Wigan and Bolton, where he was head boy at school and saw a different play every week at the local rep, never seriously thought he’d be a professional actor.
The first time he was in a play was aged six with his parents—an amateur production. “Theatre was an absorbing hobby and that’s how I thought it would go on for the rest of my life.”
It wasn’t until he went to Cambridge and was president of the theatrical Marlowe Society that he gained the confidence to believe he might make a living on the stage.