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Ian McKellen

Professional Biography

IAN McKELLEN, born and raised in the north of England, has been honored with over sixty international acting awards during his more than half a century on stage and screen. He is beloved by fans worldwide as Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

McKellen's performance as Gandalf the Grey in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brought him an Academy Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award®.

He received his first Academy Award® nomination, for Best Actor, for his masterly portrayal of gay film director James Whale, in Bill Condon's 1998 classic Gods and Monsters.

In 1995, McKellen starred to acclaim as Richard III, in his own screen-adaptation of Shakespeare's play, which he also produced. Other film credits include Michael Mann's The Keep, Fred Schepisi's Plenty and Six Degrees of Separation, John Schlesinger's Cold Comfort Farm, Sean Mathias' Bent and Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code.

McKellen has also been honored for his extensive television work, from the miniseries The Prisoner to his monumental performance in King Lear: from his reincarnation of Tsar Nicholas II in the telefilm Rasputin, to his classic guesting as himself in HBO's Extras. He co-starred with Derek Jacobi and Frances de la Tour in two seasons of ITV's series Vicious, which aired on PBS in US.

On the first night of Channel 4 in UK, McKellen played a mentally handicapped man in Stephen Frears' Walter. He surprised everyone with his 10 episodes in UK's longest running soap, Coronation Street.

McKellen attended Cambridge University and, since 1961, has worked non-stop in the British theatre. He has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London. He has won Olivier Awards for his performances in Macbeth (1976-78), The Alchemist (1977), Bent (1979), Wild Honey (1984), and Richard III (1990), as well as Evening Standard Awards for his work in Coriolanus (1984) and Othello (1989), and for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre (2009).

In 1981, he swept the Best Actor Awards, including the Tony, for his portrayal of Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. For over a decade, he toured his one-man show, Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare, through four continents, including twice on Broadway. In 2001 he returned to the New York stage in Dance of Death, with Helen Mirren. In 2007 he toured the world as King Lear in a new RSC production. In 2013 he and Patrick Stewart receivied raves all round in a repertory of Pinter's No Man's Land and Beckett's Waiting for Godot,on Broadway.

In 2014 he reunited with director Bill Condon to film Mr Holmes. Ian portrayed a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes.

In 2015 he and Anthony Hopkins starred in a BBC TV film of The Dresser. It premiered in US on Starz on May 30, 2016.

In 2016 he and Patrick Stewart reunited for a UK tour and limited West End run of No Man's Land.

In 2017 he recreated the beloved role of Cogsworth, the clock in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. He also appeared as King Lear in a new production for the Chichester Festival that transferred to London's West End in 2018.

McKellen writes on a wide variety of topics for magazines and newspapers worldwide.

He has been an innovator on the Internet, with one of the earliest official sites for an actor,, launched on September 1, 1997. In 1999 he began publishing a series of journal entries that evolved into one of the earliest non-technical blogs. His followings on social media connect more than 10 million fans.

In 1991, Sir Ian was knighted (KBE) for services to theatre in UK. He is a co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008, the Queen personally appointed him Companion of Honour (CH), for his services to drama and to equality.

Photo by Johan Persson


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