Ian McKellen Quotes

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Quotations by Ian McKellen.

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They didn`t call it marriage, although you can call it anything you want. The one thing you cannot mention is God, that is absolutely verboten. I suppose I`m a bit mean-spirited, but I really can`t see why the government couldn`t just say gay people can get married - that would have been true equality and so much simpler. But that hasn`t been done because they couldn`t face the furore. So they`ve passed a law that is not available to straight people - straight people cannot have a civil partnership, they have to get married - extraordinary.

I don`t make much distinction between being a stand-up comic and acting Shakespeare - in fact, unless you`re a good comedian, you`re never going to be able to play Hamlet properly.

About the 2008 death of Brad Renfro: "I first caught sight of Brad Renfro when he was kicking a football around with Bryan Singer on the half-built set of Apt Pupil in Hollywood. He was a kid having fun and that`s how I shall always remember him. But he was more than that. He was a proper actor and when we worked together he was determined to be accepted as such. On set, he was blusteringly confident although it was obvious he would have benefited from training as an actor. Yet, as Todd, the disturbed teenager in Apt Pupil, he tapped into an inner demonic world and carried the film on his young shoulders. He longed to belong in the alien world which perhaps in the end overwhelmed him. He was only 25 and it is dreadful we shan`t see all that he might have achieved."

Nobody has ever looked to Hollywood for social advance. Hollywood is a dream factory. I love the way that conservatives think that Hollywood is a bed of radicalism - it couldn`t be more staid and old-ladyship if it tried. The audience don`t give a blind whatever about the sexuality of actors. Gay people fancy straight people and vice-versa. It`s all in the head, so what does it matter? You`re not going to meet `Heath Ledger`. You`re not going to find out . . . It`s the image you`re looking at and falling in love with. There will be girls who go and see those two unhappy gay cowboys and go home and have fantasy dreams about them. Lovely!

It may be my rather puritanical upbringing at odds with my inborn laziness that makes me feel guilty at the end of the day, unless I am able to point at some achievement. But this need be no more impressive than cooking a meal or going for a long walk.

I`ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer at the front saying, "This is fiction." I mean, walking on water? I mean, it takes an act of faith.

If I was a star, it would be difficult to go off and do "Coronation Street" (1960). So I guess I`m not a star.

I`ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction.

My confidence only really peaked when I was 49 and said, "Yes, I`m gay."

I looked down from my terrace hanging over the Thames one morning. It was low tide and there, stranded on the pebbles, was a four-legged corpse - hairless, white and bloated. Was it a calf or a sheep or a goat or a dog? I stared at it until the tide rose and washed it away. For 24 hours I was off my food. When I started eating again, I couldn`t face meat - fresh or tinned. Overnight I was vegetarian and I have been for 15 years or more. I`ve seen the pictures of factory farming and followed the politics of mad cow disease and felt effortlessly superior. Yet it`s not reason or conscience that keeps me off meat and fowl--and these days fish, too--just a memory of that unidentifiable, decomposing body on the beach.

I didn`t like my character. He didn`t seem very deep. He just seemed a representative of evil. - On Apt Pupil (1998)

They`ll let me play a gray-bearded wizard, but they still wouldn`t cast a young gay actor - who was out - in a straight romantic lead.

If The Da Vinci Code (2006) had been filming in a place where it rains a lot, I probably wouldn`t have done it. Quite low down in the list is "How much am I going to be paid?" I`d say I was quite cheap, but my main feeling about money is that I don`t want to feel as though I`m being taken advantage of. Certainly, I`m cheaper than Anthony Hopkins. The other actors they asked to play Gandalf wouldn`t go to New Zealand on that money for that length of time. I thought it would be a bit of an adventure. Tony Hopkins didn`t think it would be an adventure. Tony is part of Hollywood. I`m an eccentric English actor, and there`s a lot of us around.

(12/5/03, on initially thinking it crazy to release the LOTR trilogy 12 months apart) I thought people wouldn`t remember what happened a year ago. But I hadn`t factored that they would be so successful at the box office, and that so many people would buy the DVD and videos in between the release of each film. I had thought the whole enterprise was doomed, because of the release pattern. I`m very happy to have been proved wrong.

In theatre, I have been able to take parts I didn`t think I could do - you have time to rehearse and learn. In movies, they want you to do what they know you can do - there isn`t the time.

(12/5/03, about the cheering fans outside the InterContinentel Hotel, where he was staying in Wellington, New Zealand:) It`s like several Christmases all come at once. They all love Gandalf, but I`m like Father Christmas in the shop. I`m not the real one.

It wasn`t exactly a mistake, but if there`s anything I regret, it`s probably having disguised my own native accent. Actors of my generation all tended to speak RP (received pronunciation). Of course, it`s all different now and drama students are encouraged to keep their regional accents and be able to do RP when required. Even at the BBC these days there`s no standardised accent, and I rather think that`s a good thing.

It is very, very, very difficult for an American actor who wants a film career to be open about his sexuality. And even more difficult for a woman if she`s lesbian. It`s very distressing to me that that should be the case. The film industry is very old fashioned in California.

"The Lord of the Rings" is a mythology, it is a fairy tale, it`s an adventure story. It never happened. Except somewhere in our hearts.

Acting is no longer about lying. It`s now about revealing the truth. People are at ease with me now. Honesty is the best policy.

I ... think of the Bible as great literature rather than great history; great imagination rather than reliable witness. Whatever, it is not as a law book that I respect the Bible.

I`ve had enough of being a gay icon! I`ve had enough of all this hard work, because, since I came out, I keep getting all these parts, and my career`s taken off. I want a quiet life. I`m going back into the closet. But I can`t get back into the closet, because it`s absolutely jam-packed full of other actors.

I am encouraged by the theatricality of (J.R.R. Tolkien`s) readings - full of rhythm and humor and characterization. Without question Gandalf is like Tolkien but then so, I suspected, are Frodo and Aragorn.

When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (J.R.R. Tolkien) didn`t think to mention it.

Many unthinking people just don`t like the idea of gays joining in their games, nor in the military and, it would seem, in the movies.

I think it`s one thing to declare your sexuality, if you care about what that is. It`s another thing to start talking in public about what you do in private and who you do it with. It`s not that they (my significant others) don`t want to be identified as gay, but that they don`t want to be identified as ... with me.

(on his first theatre experience, "Peter Pan") I wasn`t over-impressed. For one thing it wasn`t a real crocodile and I could see the wires.


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