Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen was born in 1939, in the north of England. In 1961, he majored in English Literature at Cambridge University and became a professional actor, without going to drama school. Throughout the '60s he worked non-stop, on stages in London and all over the United Kingdom and starred for BBC TV as DAVID COPPERFIELD. He made his Broadway debut in THE PROMISE (1967), one of his West End hits.
Two years later he was acclaimed as "the leading classical actor of his generation - the next Olivier!" His dual kings, Shakespeare's RICHARD II and Marlowe's EDWARD II, stormed the 1969 Edinburgh International Festival, toured Europe and played two sell-out seasons in London. Both were seen on Masterpiece Theatre. The next year, his HAMLET toured the UK and Europe, was televised and ran for 11 weeks in London. He then co-founded the democratically-run Actors' Company and toured with them for two years, including a season at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Three major triumphs followed. He was leading man for the Royal Shakespeare Company (1974-78) as Romeo, Leontes and a legendary Macbeth, all directed by Trevor Nunn. He organised and acted in the RSC's first small-scale tour, with TWELFTH NIGHT and THREE SISTERS. For his RSC work, he won three Olivier Awards in a row. Then he starred in the world premiere of Martin Sherman's BENT and was again voted Actor of the Year.
Next he conquered Broadway as Salieri in Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS, winning every available award in the 1980-81 season and "loving every minute of it." On his return to London, he was the Royal Television Society's Performer of the Year as the mentally-handicapped hero of Stephen Frears' film WALTER.
He then returned to the Royal National Theatre. There he acted in and produced a string of hits CORIOLANUS, THE CHERRY ORCHARD. NAPOLI MILIONARIA, UNCLE VANYA and WILD HONEY, which played at the Ahmanson Theatre en route for Broadway. His solo show ACTING SHAKESPEARE had meanwhile toured Europe and the United States, including two visits to the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. In London, this show raised substantial funds for UK AIDS organisations and, on video, is daily used as a teaching aid in American schools and colleges.
After his award-winning Iago for the RSC, he starred in and produced the National Theatre's world tour of RICHARD III, which ended at the UCLA's Royce Hall in 1993. His screenplay adaptation was filmed for MGM/UA and he was voted European Film Actor of the Year, with a Golden Globe nomination. Since then he has acted exclusively for the screen in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON, JACK & SARAH, RESTORATION, COLD COMFORT FARM, BENT, AMY FOSTER and Bryan Singer's APT PUPIL for Mike Medavoy and Phoenix Pictures.
In 1991, Sir Ian was knighted for his services to the performing arts and he taught at Oxford as Professor of Contemporary Theatre. He is co-founder of the Stonewall Group, which lobbies for the legal and social equality of lesbians and gay men in the UK. A KNIGHT OUT was devised for the 1994 Gay Games celebrations in New York and has since been seen in South Africa and in London. All performances at LATC will benefit local theatre and gay non-profit organisations beginning with a Gala on Saturday 17 May. In the fall, Sir Ian returns to the London stage with the National Theatre's new production of Ibsen's ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.
- THE KEEP - Michael Mann
- WALTER - Stephen Frears
- THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL - Clive Donner
- PLENTY - Fred Schepisi
- SCANDAL - Michael Caton-Jones
- BALLAD OF LITTLE JOE - Maggie Greenwald
- LAST ACTION HERO - John McTiernan
- THE SHADOW - Russell Mulcahy
- AND THE BAND PLAYED ON - HBO Roger Spottiswood
- RICHARD III - Richard Loncraine
- RASPUTIN - HBO Ulrich Edel
- JACK AND SARAH - Tim Sullivan
- COLD COMFORT FARM - John Schlesinger
- AMY FOSTER - Beeban Kidron
- APT PUPIL - Bryan Singer
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