5 June 2001
From: Dan MrPretense@aol.com
Q: I'm a young actor in Chicago, I read recently that you are possibly connected to this production of THE CRUCIBLE that Richard Eyre will be helming.
A: Much as I should enjoy renewing my association with Sir Richard, I would not be available for an imminent production of The Crucible and anyway he has not so far mentioned it to me! It is, however, a favourite play of mine – so maybe one day, elsewhere.
The Glass Menagerie
From: Joan Street email@example.com
Q: I am an amateur actor and director in Wanganui NZ having emigrated from UK. I have just directed The Glass Menagerie here and have young thirsty actors in the cast. What would be the one essential thing to always remember in performance?
A: The words for a start! Then the playwright’s intention as you define it during rehearsals. And each night it should be remembered that the performance is for them alone so don’t repeat, always re-create.
Q: I have been searching for information on your movie The Promise forever. I saw it on TV years and years ago and it was so intense (the love story) that I was totally engrossed and wanted to contact you and John Castle ever since. Please, please tell me if there is any way I can get a video of the film.
A: There is no video released of The Promise although it still turns up on cable television. I suppose you have found my notes and photographs in the Film pages of www.mckellen.com
From: Craig Rigby firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: I am an 18 year old student from Bury in Lancashire studying chemistry at Nottingham. Thank you for being an openly gay man. I have a boy friend who gets depressed about being gay, believing that gay people cannot lead normal and productive lives. I have been happy to point you out to him as a good example. As a member of the University of Nottingham LGBT committee I know that it isn't always easy to deal with awareness work.
A: Your boyfriend, considering his feelings about being gay, is lucky to have found you. Good luck together. It is always re-assuring to know that there are gay people of all ages who have surmounted society’s disaffection. It can be hard to ignore the signals of anti-gay legislation, particularly when you are young; hence the importance of open gays in public life. When I first worked in Nottingham in 1963, it was still illegal in the UK to make love to another man!
Johnson Over Jordan
From: Sam Samuel_p_Smith@hotmail.com
Q: I have stumbled across the news that Patrick Stewart is coming to Leeds later this year. Having seen the three productions you did at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is there any chance you’d come back too?
A: I shall hope to see Patrick in Jude Kelly’s production of Johnson Over Jordan by the Yorkshire dramatist J. B. Priestley. Patrick last worked with Jude in her production of Othello in Washington DC. There is always a chance of my returning to WYP, if invited of course.
NZ Travel Guide
From: Joel Levi
Q: What a surprise to come across this website! I particularly enjoyed reading The Grey Book so engaging and as a long time Tolkien fan I am thrilled that Sir Ian will be Gandalf. I hope my next trip abroad takes me to New Zealand. I plan to use Sir Ian's journal as a guide.
A: I envy your discovering New Zealand. The trilogy is bound to attract many other visitors. I suggested to the NZ tourist board that they should identify locations where Lord of the Rings was shot with small permanent exhibition centres chronicling the filming. Unfortunately the Tolkien estate is not enthusiastic and has so far only permitted exhibitions etc. which directly promote the films. Perhaps the concern is that the novels might somehow be forgotten once the films are released, whereas it is much more likely that Tolkien’s original writings will attract a legion of new admirers. So any rumours of a Tolkien ride at Disneyland or indeed in Wellington can be discounted.
Q: Do you ever worry about getting type-cast, especially now that you're doing so much big movie stuff?
A: I have always tried to avoid typecasting or indeed anything which might begin to bore me. Although many actors play to a speciality, I have always preferred to test myself against a variety of characters and styles: a glance at my CV will show you what I mean. This hasn’t stopped my being tagged as “the Shakespearian actor” although these days, amongst those who only met me through my recent film work, perhaps I am better known as “the Fantasy man.”
And the Band Played On
Q: It's been ages since I read And the Band Played On and I have regrettably never seen the HBO movie (though I am now quite moved to do so). I was surprised to see that one of my favorite actors, B.D. Wong, was in the show playing your lover. I must say you are quite a lucky man on all counts, but I'm especially jealous that you got to smooch such a talented (and drop-dead gorgeous) co-star, and quite miffed that I'll never get to see it.
A: I hope you might still find And the Band Played On re-broadcast on HBO – contact them to say you missed it. [Editor's note: Today (5 June 2001) is the release date for the DVD in the US.] I have been the envy of many of late, working closely with young actors – Brad Renfro, Brendan Fraser, Hugh Jackman, James Marsden and Elijah Wood and his fellow hobbits.
Q: Why are all of the handsome, intelligent men always gay?
A: I have often heard gay men complain that all the attractive men they fancy are straight! Maybe it’s just that you are going to the wrong clubs!
Cold Comfort Farm
From: Pongo Twistleton
Q: What was it like to essay such a horribly narrow-minded and gruffly stentorian preacher in Cold Comfort Farm? And was Stephen Fry every bit as pleasant and tall as he appears to be?
A: I have written about Amos Starkadder in my notes to Cold Comfort Farm it was fun. Yes Stephen is great company and tall! I meet him regularly at charity events in London, where he is a patron of Terrence Higgins Trust. He has appeared in Stonewall’s annual Equality Show, where he is great favourite with gay audiences. Do you read his novels? You should.
Acting vs the law
Q: I do not speak english very good. I'm mexican. like the dramatic art. I want to be an actor. I want to study in England. Although I want to be a lawyer inside of me there's something about the cinema, the actuation, the theatre. Please tell me how can I do it?
A: I won’t speculate whether Mexico needs lawyers more than actors . . . but if you are keen on pursuing an acting career why not do it at home rather than abroad? British drama schools do welcome foreign students. But before applying do be sure that you are as mad keen as all the others ambitious to act.