7 July 2004
Your new coiffure is definitely very chic.:) Recently there has been news that both Oktober and Silver Screenfilms consider you to be the top choice for the role of Monk "Fa-Hai" in the Taiwan film, The Story of the White Snake.
I would love to see you in that role, because it calls for a lot of emotional complexity, a combination of both well-hidden compassion and undeterrable determination. Your ability to convey nuances about the character through a glance or a subtle posture change would be invaluable in bringing the traditional arch-villain in a love story to life as a flesh and blood human being, instead of the cardboard bad guy that he had always been shown as.
A: As ever, my hair is cut to suit whatever style is appropriate for my current work. So on the red carpet I was sprouting back from the severe military no.1 cut that I had in Australia for Dance of Death.
I'm not familiar with Fa Hai nor have I been approached to play him. Wouldn't an Asian actor be more suitable?
On the red carpet at the Oscars, 2004
Photo by Steve Granitz/Wireimage.com
Q: I have recently been listening to your reading of the Odyssey which I have enjoyed very much. Have you also recorded the Iliad? I am hoping to go and see Emile soon.
A: Much as I enjoyed the arduous challenge of reading all those Greek names in The Odyssey I have not been asked to do The Iliad. Nor it seems were the cast of Troy!
Q: I served you tonight at the Tate Modern Gallery and hope you enjoyed your night - and from my brother, many thanks for all your public work on gay rights and equality.
A: I enjoyed the Edward Hopper exhibition — such theatrical paintings. Some are set in cinema auditoria but in them all, his figures look as if they are acting out some secret scenario. Thanks for the red wine and my regards to your brother.
AND THE BAND/MCKELLENS
Q: I became a fan of yours after watching your riveting performance in And the Band Played On. Had you read the book previously and did you know any of the characters represented in the movie prior to your engagement there? Also, what is your heritage with the name Ian McKellen? My mother is Scottish and her mother was Irish so I suspect roots along those veins.
A: I had read the book and met the author Randy Shilts late in his life at the film's premiere at the Castro Cinema. I had also met Bill Kraus's surviving partner during filming in San Francisco, though none of the other characters.
The McKellens first enter the records about 1840, in Northern Ireland whither (like all other McK's as opposed to Mac's) they had immigrated from Scotland, probably from the Isle of Islay. My middle name Murray was my Glaswegian grandmother's maiden name. As for Ian, it was just that my parents liked it. I was born and bred in Lancashire where the McKellens settled in 1844: so I am, names aside, all English.
From: Marysia Kolodziej
A: I just saw Trio and I wanted to congratulate you again (I was the girl with the lop sided very blonde hair who came up to you just as you were leaving) on an excellent performance, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading. I thought you might be interested in the review I wrote at http://www.livejournal.com/users/marysiak/357441.html I was wondering how you got involved with the Cuban Season and with Trio?
A: Richard Wilson who is much concerned with new work at the Royal Court asked me to play the transvestite in Trio — a tricky task as, of course, being a reading, there were no costumes. Thanks for the review and using your imagination.
DANCE OF DEATH: THE CAT
From: Julie Bond
Q: I really enjoyed seeing you in Dance of death last year, especially the scene where Edgar carries the cat along the front of the stage. In the performance I saw someone sneezed rather loudly quite near to the stage and the cat got a bit agitated. I thought you were very good at calming him or her down. Are you a cat lover yourself?
A: The trouble with a kitten is that, according to Ogden Nash, eventually it becomes a cat — but never an actor. I sometimes expected Edgar's stray, as it gazed out at the audience, to count the house for me but it was only responding I suppose to the sight, sounds and smells of a thousand in the dark. It couldn't wait to rejoin its minder in the wings.
Q: the truth of your homosexuality has shocked me. Im hetero and look to you as a role model (and don't plan on being gay) so I am confused. please tell me why so i don't have to be confused. gandalf and magneto are still cool to me
A: Well we have to accept and get to enjoy the fact that society is not homogeneous and that we are all different. Most of my role models are heterosexual so don't you worry about admiring the odd gay man.
LIVE ON STAGE?
From: Julia Rahm
Q: I'm 14 years old, live in Germany and my biggest wish is to see you live on stage once in my life. So I want to know where and when you'll act live on stage in the year 2004. Thank you in advance for a short answer.
A: The short answer is: Aladdin at The Old Vic Theatre. Warning ; I am playing a woman! Tickets on Ticketmaster. I hope you make it.
Q: Hi! I don't know if you remember me but I met you on your last day of 'Dance of Death.' I was the young girl (14) who was crying! Well I was soo happy to meet you, but I didn't get to ask you anything so here goes- What is your favourite film and how many times have you seen it?
A: Forgive me but I count Richard III and Gods and Monsters as among my favourites, perhaps because I appreciate the effort involved in bringing them out. Otherwise, I love Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train and Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot's Holiday.
CHRISTMAS FOR ATHEISTS?
Q: I was just wondering, how do you (personally) celebrate Christmas, (if you do at all) if you're an Atheist? I've recently become an Atheist, and have just wondered about the logistics of it and exactly how to "celebrate", (for a lack of better words).
A: I try and have these holidays with friends and/or family. I loved Christmas as a child — the carols, the nativity story, the stocking for Santa Claus, the food, a time unlike any other when everyone stopped to celebrate. We didn't go to church on Christmas Day when I was a kid, though the family was Christian. I like a Christmas tree — the last one I decorated was in New York a couple of years back when Gandalf found himself impaled on top.