Ian McKellen

Sir
Ian McKellen
CH CBE
SDCC13 - Ian McKellen.jpg
McKellen in 2013
BornIan Murray McKellen
(1939-05-25) 25 May 1939 (age 79)[1]
Burnley, Lancashire, England
Alma materSt Catharine's College, Cambridge
OccupationActor
Years active1959–present
Partner(s)Brian Taylor (1964–1972)
Sean Mathias (1978–1988)
WebsiteOfficial website
McKellen (Antonio Salieri) alongside Jane Seymour (Constanze Mozart) in Amadeus, c. 1981

Sir Ian Murray McKellen CH CBE (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. He is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, and two Critics' Choice Awards. He has also received two Oscar nominations, four BAFTA nominations and five Emmy Award nominations.

McKellen's career spans genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. The BBC states that his "performances have guaranteed him a place in the canon of English stage and film actors".[2][3] A recipient of every major theatrical award in the UK, McKellen is regarded as a British cultural icon.[4][5] He started his professional career in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre as a member of their highly regarded repertory company. In 1965, McKellen made his first West End appearance. In 1969, he was invited to join the Prospect Theatre Company to play the lead parts in Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II, and he firmly established himself as one of the country's foremost classical actors. In the 1970s, McKellen became a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain. He achieved worldwide fame for his film roles, including the titular King in Richard III (1995), James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998), Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

McKellen was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 Birthday Honours, was knighted in the 1991 New Year Honours for services to the performing arts, and made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality in the 2008 New Year Honours.[6][7][8][9] He has been openly gay since 1988, and continues to be a champion for LGBT social movements worldwide. He was awarded Freedom of the City of London in October 2014.[10]

Early life

McKellen was born on 25 May 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire,[11] the son of Margery Lois (née Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He was their second child, with a sister, Jean, five years his senior.[12] Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, his family moved to Wigan. They lived there until Ian was twelve years old, before relocating to Bolton in 1951, after his father had been promoted.[12][13] The experience of living through the war as a young child had a lasting impact on him, and he later said that "only after peace resumed ... did I realise that war wasn't normal."[13] When an interviewer remarked that he seemed quite calm in the aftermath of 11 September attacks, McKellen said: "Well, darling, you forget—I slept under a steel plate until I was four years old."[14] Even though he only lived in Bolton for less than seven years, as opposed to the eleven years in Wigan beforehand, he refers to Bolton as his "Hometown".

McKellen's father was a civil engineer[15] and lay preacher, and was of Protestant Irish and Scottish descent.[16] Both of McKellen's grandfathers were preachers, and his great-great-grandfather, James McKellen, was a "strict, evangelical Protestant minister" in Ballymena, County Antrim.[17] His home environment was strongly Christian, but non-orthodox. "My upbringing was of low nonconformist Christians who felt that you led the Christian life in part by behaving in a Christian manner to everybody you met."[18] When he was 12, his mother died of breast cancer; his father died when he was 24. After his coming out as gay to his stepmother, Gladys McKellen, who was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, he said, "Not only was she not fazed, but as a member of a society which declared its indifference to people's sexuality years back, I think she was just glad for my sake that I wasn't lying anymore."[19] His great-great-grandfather Robert J. Lowes was an activist and campaigner in the ultimately successful campaign for a Saturday half-holiday in Manchester, the forerunner to the modern five-day work week, thus making Lowes a "grandfather of the modern weekend".[20]

McKellen attended Bolton School (Boys' Division),[21] of which he is still a supporter, attending regularly to talk to pupils. McKellen's acting career started at Bolton Little Theatre, of which he is now the patron.[22] An early fascination with the theatre was encouraged by his parents, who took him on a family outing to Peter Pan at the Opera House in Manchester when he was three.[12] When he was nine, his main Christmas present was a fold-away wood and bakelite Victorian theatre from Pollocks Toy Theatres, with cardboard scenery and wires to push on the cut-outs of Cinderella and of Laurence Olivier's Hamlet.[12]

His sister took him to his first Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night,[23] by the amateurs of Wigan's Little Theatre, shortly followed by their Macbeth and Wigan High School for Girls' production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with music by Mendelssohn, with the role of Bottom played by Jean McKellen, who continued to act, direct, and produce amateur theatre until her death.[24]

In 1958, McKellen, at the age of 18, won a scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he read English literature.[25] He has since been made an Honorary Fellow of the College. While at Cambridge, McKellen was a member of the Marlowe Society, where he appeared in 23 plays over the course of 3 years. At that young age he was already giving performances that have since become legendary such as his Justice Shallow in Henry IV alongside Trevor Nunn and Derek Jacobi (March 1959), Cymbeline (as Posthumus, opposite Margaret Drabble as Imogen) and Doctor Faustus.[26][27][28] During this period McKellen had already been directed by Peter Hall, John Barton and Dadie Rylands, all of whom would have a huge impact on McKellen's future career.

Other Languages
العربية: إيان ماكيلين
azərbaycanca: Yan MakKellen
Bân-lâm-gú: Ian McKellen
беларуская: Іэн Мак-Келен
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ен Макелен
български: Иън Маккелън
brezhoneg: Ian McKellen
català: Ian McKellen
čeština: Ian McKellen
Cymraeg: Ian McKellen
Deutsch: Ian McKellen
Ελληνικά: Ίαν ΜακΚέλεν
español: Ian McKellen
Esperanto: Ian McKellen
euskara: Ian McKellen
føroyskt: Ian McKellen
français: Ian McKellen
Gaeilge: Ian McKellen
galego: Ian McKellen
한국어: 이언 매켈런
հայերեն: Յան Մաքկելեն
Bahasa Indonesia: Ian McKellen
italiano: Ian McKellen
Кыргызча: Иэн Маккеллен
latviešu: Ians Makellens
magyar: Ian McKellen
მარგალური: იენ მაკ-კელენი
Nederlands: Ian McKellen
norsk nynorsk: Ian McKellen
occitan: Ian McKellen
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਇਆਨ ਮਕਕੈਲਨ
polski: Ian McKellen
português: Ian McKellen
română: Ian McKellen
Simple English: Ian McKellen
slovenčina: Ian McKellen
slovenščina: Ian McKellen
српски / srpski: Ијан Макелен
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ian McKellen
svenska: Ian McKellen
Tagalog: Ian McKellen
Türkçe: Ian McKellen
українська: Ієн Маккеллен
Tiếng Việt: Ian McKellen
Zazaki: Ian McKellen