Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. He has won multiple Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. He is known for film roles such as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as Magneto in the X-Men films, and as Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code.
While McKellen had made his sexual orientation known to his fellow actors early on in his stage career, it was not until 1988 that he came out to the general public, in a programme on BBC Radio 3. The context that prompted McKellen’s decision — overriding any concerns about a possible negative effect on his career — was that the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, simply known as Section 28, was under consideration in the British Parliament. McKellen has stated that he was influenced in his decision by the advice and support of his friends, among them noted gay author Armistead Maupin. In a 1998 interview that discusses the 29th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, McKellen commented, “I have many regrets about not having come out earlier, but one of them might be that I didn’t engage myself in the politicking.”
Recently, in a twitter chat, for the publicity of the upcoming The Hobbit film, a tweet asked him: “I’m gay and it’s still difficult to deal with ignorant, homophobic people – how do you deal with it?”
He answered, “Find friends who will accept you for what you are. Be honest with them and then, one day, you’ll be able to be open to the whole world. If people can’t accept for what you are, they’re not worth bothering about.”
Way to go, sir!