24 October 2002
Q: It's really surprised me that you do many writing for your website and answer fan mails too. It's certainly that you must live a very busy life. How can you have time for all this quite 'trivia' things, especially answering the fan mails? At first, I think 'that cannot be "him"', but the writing style is just 'right'. :-)
A: The way it works is this. E-mails arrive at the site and are read with care by the webmaster. He removes repetitious questions or ones I have previously answered or which don¹t need an answer and filters the rest to me in rough categories (e.g. Shakespeare, LOTRings, X-Men, other movies, bits and bobs).
The replies are my own work. :-))
From: Jessica Linker email@example.com
Q: I was watching the Oscars (and I'm quite sorry you didn't win, I was rooting for you) and I couldn't help but notice that necklace of yours! I seem to have seen it in other recent photographs of you as well. Is there a story behind it?
A: The greenstone is a jade unique to New Zealand and is sculpted into a variety of traditional Maori designs. It is thought proper to wear this "pounamu" only if it has been given to and not bought by the wearer.
The Laramie Project
Q: I recently watched the Matthew Shepard story on TV that was produced by Goldie Hawn. Did you see it and what are your views on the crime? Also, would you ever consider going behind the camera to produce a movie like this?
A: I thought "The Laramie Project" which began onstage and ended up on the HBO broadcast you saw, was a good example of how journalism and drama could enhance each other, with actors speaking the actual words of Laramie residents most affected by Shepard's murder. I was asked to be in the movie but felt (much as I approved of the screenplay) that I wouldn't be able to manage a Wyoming accent with enough accuracy.
From: Annelie Holm Aerosmith_nr1@hotmail.com
Q: Do you have any mentor from whom you get inspiration?
A: The actor heroes of my youth are now dead - Laurence Olivier et al. My mentors, advisers, teachers are the directors I work with, often more than once; e.g. Bill Condon, Richard Eyre, Sean Mathias, Trevor Nunn, Fred Schepisi, Bryan Singer.
SF Pride 2002
From: Marc firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Saw you at SF Pride 2002 and wanted to say that you do GREAT justice to the title Sir! After attending, what was your favorite "Pride" moment? Hope you come back soon for a visit.
A: So many wonderful moments and meetings and memories! The night before the Parade, Pink Saturday, when the Castro district was pedestrianised, I was given such a welcome by so many that I felt, as I often have done, that San Francisco is my gay home. Of course I will come back soon.
It was a thrill to meet Georgina Beyer, transexual member of the New Zealand parliament backstage after the SF Parade: to hob nob with Marc Almond in his trailer before I introduced him to the crowd: to climb to the top of the City Hall's dome and look down on the hundreds of thousands revellers below. And I liked the bouquet of sunflowers I was given during my drive at the head of the Parade.
From: Dinah Sanders
Q: Thank you so much for visiting San Francisco for the Pride parade. It was lovely to see you so happy and gay. I'm the one who gave you the large bouquet of sunflowers and I am so glad you had such a good time with them. Watching you sharing them with the crowds (Zeus casting lightning bolts!) and spinning them while you danced down Market Street brought a huge smile to my face.
A: Yes I remember the sunflowers. Thank you for them.
From: email@example.com Kris
Q: On SNL when you hosted, there was one skit where you kissed the news anchor man, and a friend and I were wondering if that was written into the skit or if you just improvised that? I think it's hilarious, but the guy looked so shocked, so we weren't sure if it was planned or not.
A: All acting. The kiss and Jimmy Fallon's reaction to it were scripted just as we did it although after the early evening's dress rehearsal Jimmy Fallon added a couple of lines for the live show. He told me he had never kissed a man before. Well for that matter I had never kissed a man before while dressed as a woman.
Q: I´m a little swedish girl, 13 years, and I´m wondering this: what´s your favourite food??? you see, some friends and I are going to make a LOTR-cookerybook, and we want your favourite receipe!! hmmm....please please please answear this!!!!!!!
A: I am away from home and the cookery-books which I depend on so I'll send you the simplest recipe for my favourite snack.
Toast bread, smear with ripe avocado and top with seasoned raw tomato slices with a dash of mayonnaise. If Marmite (yeast extract is available) put a bit on the toast under the rest.
Q: Have you any comments about Alan Turing? I consider him the most tragically wronged hero of 20th century British history. I think his memory deserves some sort of exoneration by your government.
A: The man who cracked the Nazi's Enigma code was imprisoned for being gay. (www.turing.org.uk/turing/) A statue is to be unveiled by Derek Jacobi who played him in Hugh Whitemore's play.
Q: I'm a huge fan of your work, think you are one of the best actors currently treading the boards and am a general yea-sayer to your work. I suppose that is why I feel I must attack you so. ;) I am of an opinion that stars of movies, professional athletes, explosve writers (Danniel Steele, etc.) are rewarded all out of any sane compensation. I suppose I could launch into any standard sort of tirade where I mention how the movers and real grease on the wheels of the world: the teachers, the researchers, the dreamers make the tick and tock...look I won't. I'm just curious if you feel that actors in the film craft are under, over or valued just enough?
A: There is no justice in financial reward in the capitalist system, although one must expect the unique to be higher paid than the drone. But even in socialist systems (like the late Soviet Union) where equality in living standards was aimed at, actors were cherished by the state more than many other citizens because, perhaps, they often represented the aspiration of the state in patriotic plays and movies.
My own solution to "fairness" would be to avoid paying any participant in any money-making enterprise too much in advance, so actors' salaries (and studio bosses') would be linked to the profits not to the production budget. Don't forget that most actors are not well paid, particularly in the theatre and that even when they strike it lucky in a successful film, the bigger the profits there, the less likely it is that they will be shared amongst the workers rather than the owners of the rights to the movie.
Low Budget Films
Q: Is Mr Mckellen up for doing short low budget films...provided the scripts good and the crew competent of course???
A: Certainly. He is also up for doing long large budget films...provided as you say...
Photos by Keith Stern