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Sir Ian McKellen
I met Sir Ian McKellen in September 2011 when I went to the Milton Keynes theatre to see him in The Syndicate. He was very friendly & approachable and I had this super photo taken with him before the show. He grew the moustache for his character
Ian Murray McKellen was born in Burnley, Lancashire in 1939, but was raised in Wigan. He was born at the general hospital in Burnley, although a blue plaqueon
character Don Antonio.
Baby Ian with his mother
25 Scott Park Road, Burnley
17 Parson's Walk, Wigan
Ian and his sister had both became fascinated with acting and the theatre from a very early age, an interest which their parents actively
actively encouraged. At Bolton School, Ian McKellen took part in eight different plays, including his first Shakespearian role (Malvolio in Twelfth Night) when he was 13. He appeared in five different productions at the Bolton Little Theatre in 1953, and regularly visited
plaque on the the wall of 25 Scott Park Road in Burnley (the family home at the time), states that he was born there. His parents were Dennis (a civil engineer) and Margery McKellan.
McKellan. Ian had sister, Jean, who was 5 years older than him. They soon moved to 17 Parson's Walk in Wigan where Ian went to Dicconson Street Primary School and then on to Wigan Grammar School. After Margery McKellen died in 1951, the family moved to Bolton, and Ian McKellen transferred to Bolton School (Boys' Division).
visited Stratford-upon-Avon where he saw the likes of Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.
The Little Theatre, Bolton
Ian McKellen in a school production
of Henry IV Part 2 in 1956
Ian McKellen in 1961
When he was 18, McKellen won a scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Cambridge, gaining a BA degree in 1961. Here he became a member of the Marlowe Society, appearing in Shakespeare plays alongside Trevor Nunn and Derek Jacobi.
On leaving Cambridge, Ian McKellen chose to go straight into repertory theatre and opted for the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, with a weekly wage of £9. He made his professional stage
Ian McKellen & Judi Dench
Ian McKellan as Max in Bent
Ian McKellen in Aladdin
Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot
Mark Eden & Ian McKellen in
End of Conflict
stage debut there in 1961, as Roper in A Man for All Seasons. This was the first of sixteen Belgrade productions he performed in that year. From 1962 to 1963, he spent two years in rep at Ipswich. Before making his West End debutand
debut and embarking on a career that would see him become one of of the country’s greatest actors, Ian McKellen was part of the Nottingham Playhouse’s inaugural season in 1963-64, becoming the first actor to play Arthur Seaton on stage in a ten-week
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Ian McKellen as Arthur Seaton in
ten-week run of the stage version of Alan Sillitoe's novel Saturday Night and Sunday
Nottingham Playhouse in the 1960s
Sunday Morning. This was one of six plays in which McKellen performed at the Playhouse that season - the others being Coriolanus, The Bashful Genius, The Mayor of Zalamea, Sir Thomas
Thomas More and The Life in My Hands, a play by the theatre's new associate artistic director Peter Ustinov.
Ian McKellen in
Ian McKellen as Claudio in
Much Ado About Nothing
McKellen moved to London where his first West End performance was in James Saunders' new play A Scent of Flowers in 1964. Whilst living there,
A Scent of Flowers
there, he performed in numerous plays, and joining the Royal National Theatre in 1965, appearing as Claudio, alongside Maggie
in The Promise
Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. In 1967, McKellen made his Broadway debut in The Promise alongside Judy Dench.
In 1972, McKellen was a founder member of The Actors' Company, and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1974, at he request of its artistic director TrevorN
Francesca Annis & Ian McKellen in
Romeo and Juliet
Trevor Nunn who had just succeeded Peter Hall. Roles included Macbeth with Judi Dench and Romeo with Francesca Annis. Later noteworthy roles included Max in Bent (Criterion Theatre 1979); Salieri
Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus (Broadhurst Theatre, New York 1980);
1980); Bosola in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, Inspector Hound in Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound and Lopakhin in Chekov's The Cherry Orchard (all at the National Theatre 1985); Garry Essendine in Noel Cowerd's Present Laughter & Dr Dorn in Chekov's The Seagull (both at Leeds
McKellen as Salieri in Amadeus
Leeds Playhouse 1998) and Edgar in August Strindberg's The Dance of Death (Broadhurst Theatre, New York 2001) with Helen Mirren.
Clare Higgins & Ian McKellen in
Ian McKellen as King Lear
With Helen Mirren in The Dance of Death
In 2009, McKellan teamed up with Patrick Stewart in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, which went on a sell-out UK tour before its West End run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. This was followed by a 2010 tour of Australia, New Zealand & South Africa. In total, this production completed 360 performances!
In Eduardo di Filippo's The Syndicate, McKellen was cast as a powerful Naples godfather Don Antonio Barracano, who after spending 17 years in New York learning about gang violence, returns home to try to clean up crime and injustice. The play went on a UK tour from July to September 2011.
Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot
Sir Ian McKellen has signed this photo to me
It shows him as Don Antonio Barracano in The Syndicate
In August 2013, McKellen & Stewart are to appear in Harold Pinter's play No Mans Land at the Cort Theatre on Broadway. Over the years, McKellen's stage roles (amounting to more than 150 since his schooldays) have brought him a number of 'Best Actor' awards.
Ian McKellen's television work by comparison has beenrelatively
Ian McKellen & Hannah Gordon in
Timothy West & Ian McKellen in Richard II
In 2013, Ian McKellen raised more than a few eyebrows whenhe
been relatively insignificant. He played the title roles in both the TV adaptation of Dickens' David Copperfield (1966) and also the TV movie Edward II (1970). McKellen later earned positive reviews for playing the title role of a mentally-retarded man in the TV film Walter (1982),
(1982), for which he won a RTS 'Best Performance' award. The second part of the story, Walter and June, was shown the following year. Other TV parts have included Adolf Hitler in Countdown to War (1989) and Tsar Nicholas II in Rasputin (1996). It was in complete contrast, that McKellen took on the role of Mel Hutchwright in 10 episodes of the soap Coronation Street in 2005! It was to fulfill a lifelong wish of his to appear in this long-running series.
Ian McKellen & Tony Melody in Walter
With Sarah Miles in Walter and June
Ian McKellen as Tsar Nicolas II in Rasputin
Ian McKellen in Coronation Street
when he teamed up with Derek Jacobi for the ITV comedy series Vicious. They play an old gay couple, constantly entertaining guests and continuously hurling insults at each other. McKellan & Jacobi knew each other at Cambridge and both had 'crushes' on each other which neither of them admitted at the time.
Ian McKellen & Derek Jacobi in Vicious
Ian McKellen's silver screen breakthrough came with his portrayal
portrayal of John Profumo in the award-winning Scandal (1989),whi
(1989), which effectively launched his film career internationally. Following roles in films like Last Action Hero (1993),
Ian McKellen as John Profumo in
(1993), The Shadow (1994), Jack & Sarah (1995) and Bent (1997), McKellen suddenly became an unlikely
As Dr Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow
unlikely movie star with two outstanding performances in the same year. In the thriller Apt Pupil (1998), he gives a chilling portrayal of evil cast as Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi
Ian McKellen as William in
Nazi war criminal. Even better was his role as James Whale (the homosexual British director of horror films like Frankenstein) in Gods and Monsters (1998) for which McKellen received an Oscar nomination for 'Best Actor'.
As Death in Last Action Hero
Jack & Sarah
In X-Men (2000), a film based on the adventures
Ian McKellen in
Gods and Monsters
adventures of the Marvel Comic superheroes, McKellan played Magneto, the evil rival of Professor
Professor Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart). That same year, he signed on to play the wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson's widely anticipated adaptation of Tolkein's trilogy Lord of the Rings, and gave an performance for which he gained an Oscar nomination inthefirstnstallment,
Ian McKellen as Magneto in X-Men
in the first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). He reprised Gandalf in The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), which earned him more rave reviews and the adulation of Tolkein fans. After years with comparatively few films to his name, McKellen now found himself in some of the biggest blockbusters ever produced! He then reprised the villainous Magneto in the comic book sequels X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
As Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring
Ian McKellen as Gandalf & Bernard Hill as Theoden in
As Gandalf in The Return of the King
Asylum (2005) was a dour period drama starring Natasha Richardson in which McKellen played a hospital administrator, and in The Da Vinci Code (2006), a mystery thriller based on Dan Brown's novel,heiscastas
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
novel, he is cast as the main antagonist Sir Leigh Teabing.
Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing in
The Da Vinci Code
In 2012, McKellen reprised Gandalf yet again in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Again directed by Peter Jackson, this is the first of a three-part film adaptation of Tolkein's 1937 novel, and they will act as prequels to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The two remaining Hobbit films, The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again, are scheduled for release in 2013 and 2014.
As Gandalf in The Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey
Natasha Richardson & Ian McKellen in Asylum
Sir Ian McKellen takes part in the first London Gay Parade in 2004
Homosexual since he was a teenager, Ian McKellen only 'came out' publicly in 1988 when he was 49 years old, and has been active in the Gay Rights movement ever since. In 1999, he formed the pressure group Stonewall, with former actor & politician Michael Cashman.
Ian McKellen was awarded the CBE in 1979 and was knighted in 1990 for services to the performing arts. In the 2008 New Year Honours he was made a Companion of Honour for services to Drama
drama and to equality. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Bath in 2001, an honorary Doctor of Letters by Lancaster University in 2004, an honorary degree by the University of Leeds also in 2004 and an honorary
honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree from the University of Ulster in 2013.
The Queen makes Sir Ian McKellan a
Companion of Honour
Honorary Degree from Leeds Uni
The Grapes in Limehouse
There is one role that has recently been filling his time in real life - that of publican. Along with former partner, theatre director Sean Mathias, he has taken over the historic Grapes pub near hishome
his home in Limehouse, East London. The current building dates from 1720, and was 'The Jolly Fellowship Porters' in Dickens' novel Our Mutual Friend. Where it is described as ‘a tavern of dropsical appearance... long settled down into a state of hale infirmity’.
Sean Mathias & Sir Ian McKellen at The Grapes
Sir Ian McKellen's official website tells you everything about this wonderful actor, much of it in his own words. Lots of great images too!