1 March 2005
Thanks for printing email from "Why no Reply?" on August 28, 2004. The message prompted me to write a huge THANK YOU to Ian McKellen for answering the wide variety of correspondence he does. It's a great courtesy to fans, aspiring professionals, and researchers. I do a lot of research on the web. This site is THE BEST in terms of scope, focus, and keeping up to date!
A: Thank you from me and from webmaster Keith Stern -- although we must stop corresponding like this.
EMMA AND JUDI
From: Frank, Germany
Q: I hope that I could watch you in a movie with Emma Thompson in the near future. Any future plans in that way? Or what about a reunion on the silver screen with Judi Dench?
A: I think Emma Thompson is a wonderful screen actor. I am being reunited with Judi Dench on 24 April when she and I raise funds for the Theatre Royal in Bury St. Edmunds. We will do some Shakespeare together I expect.
From: william mann
I´m directing Macbeth using Japanese Noh techniques -- very similar to your RSC production. I´ve seen the DVD many times, but it´s in black & white. What colour were the costumes? Was there a symbolism &/or meaning behind them? And when the characters left the stage, did they always return to the same seat? Did the characters not on stage respond or react to the action on stage or did they "die"? Thanks.
A: The production was indeed monochrome and John Napier chose costumes within the grey range between the cream of King Duncan's robe to the black of the soldier's boots.
The actors generally sat around the action within the "magic circle" painted on the wooden floor though not always in the same seat. We witnessed the action rather than responding to it. We were collectively responsible for sound effects -- I shook the thunder sheet early on in the action.
COLD COMFORT FARM
From: Luthien (Not really)
There is never much reference to you playing cousin Amos in Cold Comfort Farm ("I saw something nasty in the woodshed"). This has been one of my favourite films for a long time (since i was about 9 actually, when i saw it at my Grandfathers in Barain)and i always wanted to know what it was like to work alongside Eileen Atkins and not laugh! I dread to think how many outtakes there were. Well i must have taken up enough of your time asking pointless questions that you must have been asked one hundred times before but, i am only forteen (seriously!) and have no life.
A: Of course you have a life! You write very entertainingly, and thank you.
You are right, Eileen Atkins is very funny always overflowing with great stories and gossip -- a natural storyteller. We first worked together in 1967 on Broadway on my first visit to New York.
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."
A: I suppose atheists can celebrate at year's end just as the Pagans did before Christianity adopted the festival and took it to church. The secular side of these holidays sits at ease with the religious. Celebrate with friends, family, anyone you love or who needs to be loved.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Q: I have been a fan of your movies for as long as I can remember but I would love to see you perform in person. My question was going to be if you would consider doing a play in the states in the futures but after thinking about it I wonder if location makes a difference in what plays you choose to be apart of.
A: In 2001 for the first time I originated a stage production in USA -- the Broadway Dance of Death which later transferred to London and then Sydney for the 2004 Arts Festival. Usually it's more practical to start things closer to home. I am currently planning a couple of stage plays that will open in Stratford-upon-Avon in UK and then travel abroad in 2007.
Q: I have to write this message because I saw "gods and monsters" yesterday and I´m still so very impressed of your performance. I came to you through Tolkien and knowing of your being gay offered a new world to me to think of. I had to ask myself how I would react if my son would out himself as gay (he´s 17 and hasn´t had a girlfriend yet). Your homepage is a little treasure, I enjoy very much to read your writings and thoughts. I assume that most of the answers to your e-post may not be written personally but I hope there will be many more of your writings in the future. Now my last question: in Germany amazon announces your unofficial biography by Mark Barratt for March 2005. Do you know about it and is it worth to be bought? Perhaps all the contents can be read already on your homepage?
A: Love your son and all will be well between you.
These E-Posts are all my own work! And I expect they may appear in the upcoming biography. I avoided contributing because this website (with its full detail of fact and comment) was always intended to be an authoritative online autobiography.
Q: After 4 long years of being uncertain I've come to accept the fact that I'm gay. I'm happy to finally admit that, but I'm scared of what my parents would think should they ever find out. What was it like when your parents found out, and how did you cope? I don't want to lose them but I can't lie to them forever, so tell me, what should I do??
A: You have started well by coming out in your letter. You must have a friend who will appreciate your honesty when you tell him/her. If it's a friend who can talk to your family, terrific. Try and think positively and come out a bit at a time. Call your local Lesbian and Gay Switchboard for calm sensible advice. Go to places where you can talk to other gay people -- we all have a coming out tale to tell. Mine was unremarkable but like you I was worried what others would think instead of realising how good I would feel once I wasn't lying any more.
IN THE US NAVY
Q: As an active member of the US Navy and a bisexual both, I can say from personal experience that attitudes of the majority of the people I work with are much better than I had expected due, I believe, to the efforts of everyone in the gay community with the support of highly visible persons such as yourself. Society is coming to understand better that just because some people enjoy the love and romantic company of someone of their own sex does not make them an aberration. In the last five years of my Naval service the attitude of the general majority on active duty seems to have changed significantly. The day after being "seen on a date" with a gentleman friend of mine by a group of my co-workers, my Chief pulled me aside and said I should be more careful how I conducted myself in public so as not to attract unwanted attention by some of the older school of sailors who wouldn't react well to "your choice in men, or...well....your dating men at all". Thankfully, from the group I work with I received nothing but support. They are more concerned with my happiness than my sexual preference. If prejudice can be made into understanding in a place like the US Navy, perhaps there is a chance it can be done so everywhere. I thought you could appreciate a story like mine and I hope you do.
A: I do appreciate it and hope the previous e-mailer will too.
Q: Hello from Israel, I've recently met you at the London premiere and after party of 'Stage Beauty'. How come you went since you're not acting in the film?
A: I went because Richard Eyre, who directed it, is a good friend and colleague. When he ran the National Theatre in London he employed me as Richard III amongst other plays.
Stage Beauty, set in 17th century London, is a much more telling evocation of the theatre backstage than Shakespeare in Love, to which it has been compared. Billy Crudup is as convincing as possible in the lead role of a female-impersonating actor who overnight becomes a director with some advance knowledge of 20th century acting methods.
QUEER AS FOLK
From: Mark Ward
Q: I was thrilled to see you at a workshop for the proposed musical of 'Queer As Folk' at The Venue a few months back. I, myself, am an agent (no...please keep reading!!!) and wanted very much to come and introduce myself and ask your reaction to the piece. I refrained (to my constant irritation.) I would ask the question now, what you thought to the 'Queer As Folk' musical workshop.
A: I was invited by the director Jude Kelly who I worked with at West Yorkshire Playhouse a couple of seasons back. I really enjoyed the songs and performances which captured the mood of the TV series.