Richard III | Stage Productions
"Before 1990 I had no interest in playing Richard III. Indeed, I had long dismissed the play as not fit for modern consumption." Ian McKellen in the introduction to "Richard III Screenplay"
However . . .
After playing "Iago" in OTHELLO (1989), Sir Ian "was prepared to explore Richard's humanity rather than reducing him to an emblem of wickedness." The first stage production RICHARD III in repertory with KING LEAR (1990) was a sensation, leading to a World Tour followed by a run at the Lyttelton Theatre (London 1991) and a US Tour in 1992.
Noted Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom has written that Ian McKellen was "the greatest stage Richard I have seen."