Acting Awards, Honours, and Appointments

Ian McKellen has earned more than sixty major international acting awards including a Tony Award for Amadeus, four Olivier Awards (for Pillars of the Community, Bent, Wild Honey, and Richard III), the Screen Actors Guild Award for Fellowship of The Ring, a Cable ACE Award for And the Band Played On... , and a Golden Globe Award for Rasputin.

His portrayal of James Whale in Bill Condon's film Gods and Monsters  received honours from around the world, including nominations for the Academy Award (Oscar), Screen Actors Guild Award, the Golden Satellite, and the Golden Globe. In 1999 he was named "Best Actor" by the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association, Toronto Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Online Film Critics Society, the British Independent Film Awards, and many others.


The Screen Actors Guild Award
10 March 2002
Photo by Reuters/Fred Greaves

His portrayal of the wizard Gandalf the Grey in Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring received accolades from critics and filmgoers worldwide, including his second nomination for the Academy Award.

In 2007, McKellen was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance on EXTRAS! In 2009, he received another Emmy nomination for the television version of King Lear.

Other Highlights

McKellen's performances in King Lear and as Chekov's The Wood Demon at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974 brought him a Drama Desk Award.

McKellen was honored with an Olivier Award for his performance as Max in the world premiere of Martin Sherman's riveting and ground-breaking play Bent. He then won the Tony, Drama Desk, New York Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his portrayal of Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus.

In 1982 he was voted The Royal Television Society's Performer of the Year for his portrayal of the mentally-handicapped hero of Stephen Frears' Walter, the film that launched Britain's Channel 4.

He won his third Drama Desk Award when he took his one-man show, Acting Shakespeare, to New York in 1983.

After winning the London Critics' Award and the London Evening Standard Award for Iago in Trevor Nunn's Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1989, he produced and starred in the Royal National Theatre's world tour of Richard III, which had its 300th performance in Los Angeles, and won the SWET Award.

In 1991, McKellen was knighted by the Queen for his services to the performing arts, and he succeeded Stephen Sondheim as Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University.

McKellen has been nominated four times for the Emmy (Rasputin, And the Band Played On, EXTRAS!, and King Lear), and three times for the BAFTA (Richard III, Fellowship of The Ring, Return of The King).

In 2003, Variety named McKellen "UK Personality of the Year."

In 2006 he was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, and a Special Award from the Society of London Theatre for his achievements.

Iin 2007, Queen Elizabeth II named McKellen a Companion of Honour for his “outstanding achievements as an actor and also for his work in championing the causes of diversity”.

In 2009 he was given lifetime achievement awards at San Sebastian Film Festival and the Evening Standard Awards.

In 2014 McKellen received an honorary degree from his alma mater Cambridge University.

In 2019 McKellen became the first actor to top The Stage 100 list of most influential people in British theatre. 

Acting Awards:

1964 Clarence Derwent Award (A Scent of Flowers)
1966 Plays & Players' Most Promising Actor
1974 New York Drama Desk Award (King Lear/The Wood Demon)
1976 Plays & Players' London Theatre Critics' Award for Best Actor (Macbeth)
1977 Society of West End Theatres (SWET) Award for Comedy Performance of the Year (The Alchemist)
1978 Society of West End Theatres (SWET) Award for Best Actor of the Year (Pillars of the Community)
1979 Society of West End Theatres (SWET) Award for Best Actor of the Year (Bent)
1980 NY Drama Desk Award (Amadeus)
NY Drama League Delia Austrian Medal for Most Distinguished Performance by an Actor or Actress on the Broadway Stage (Amadeus)
Outer Critics' Circle Award (Amadeus)
Tony for Best Actor (Amadeus)
1982 Royal Television Society Performer of the Year (Walter)
1983 NY Drama Desk Award (Acting Shakespeare)
Plays & Players' Award (Acting Shakespeare)
Drama-logue (LA Critics) Award (Acting Shakespeare)
1984 SWET Award for Best Actor in a Revival (Wild Honey)
Peabody Award for Broadcasting (Shakespeare Birthday Programme)
1985 London Evening Standard Award - Best Actor (Coriolanus)
1988 The Elliot Norton Ward (Acting Shakespeare)
1988 Peabody Broadcasting Award (Speaking for Everyman: Ian McKellen celebrates Shakespeare's Birthday)
1989 London Evening Standard Award - Best Actor (Othello)
London Critics' Circle Drama Theatre Award for Best Actor of 1989 (Othello
1992 Society of West End Theatres (SWET) Award for Best Actor of the Year (Richard III)
1993 Cable Ace Best Supporting Actor (And The Band Played On)
1993 GLAAD Media Award
1996 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor (Rasputin)
Emmy Nomination Best Supporting Actor (Rasputin)
1996 Felix Awards — European Actor of the Year (Richard III)
1996 Golden Quill: the Sir John Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts, presented by the Shakespeare Guild at the Folger Library, Washington, D.C., 20 May 1996.
1997 Audie Award for Best Solo Performance 1997 (The Odyssey)
1998 Lifetime Achievement Ovation Award, Theatre LA
1998 - 1999 Numerous awards for Gods and Monsters and Apt Pupil, including:
Best Actor - The Independent Spirit Award
Best Actor - National Board of Review
Best Actor - Broadcast Film Critics Association
Best Actor - British Independent Film Awards
Best Actor - Uruguyan Film Critics Association
Best Actor - Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Best Actor - Chicago Film Critics Association
Best Actor - Florida Film Critics Circle
Best Actor - San Diego Film Critics Society
Best Actor - Toronto Film Critics Association
Best Actor - Online Film Critics Society
Best Actor - Online Motion Picture Academy
Best Actor - International Film Festival San Sebastian
Best Actor - Film in Noir, Italy
Best Actor - The Saturn Award
Best Actor - The Chlotrudis Award
Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Screen Actors Guild
Nomination as Best Actor - Drama - The Golden Globe Award
Nomination as Best Actor - The Academy Award (Oscar)
1999 Barclay's Theatre Award - Best Supporting Performance (The Seagull)
2002 Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Screen Actors Guild (The Fellowship of the Ring)
Nomination as Best Supporting Actor - The Academy Award (Oscar) (The Fellowship of the Ring)
2003 Variety UK Personality of the Year
2003 London Critics' Circle Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Arts
2003-2004 For The Return of the King:
Outstanding Performance by a Cast - Screen Actors Guild
Best Ensemble - Broadcast Film Critics Award
Best Acting by Ensemble - National Board of Review
Best Ensemble - Online Film Critics Association
2006 M.E.N. Theatre Award for Best Actor in a Visiting Production (The Cut)
2006 Master of the Craft Award: Movieline's Hollywood Life Young Hollywood Awards
2007 Annie Animation Award for Best Feature Voice Acting (Flushed Away)
2007 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, EXTRAS!
2008 Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actor, King Lear
2009 Emmy Nomination: Outstanding Actor, King Lear

Honours and Appointments:

1960/61 President of the Marlowe Society, Cambridge
1971/72 Council of British Actors' Equity
1979 Commander of the British Empire
1989 Hon. DLitt Nottingham
1989 Founder Member of Stonewall Group UK
1989 Chair of Iris Trust
1990 APLA Award
1991 Knight of the British Empire
University of Oxford, Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre
1993 GLAAD Media Award, "Stephen F. Kolzak Award"
1993 Hon. DLitt Aberdeen
1994 Royal National Institute for the Deaf: Communicator of the Year Award
1994 Patron of English Touring Theatre
1996-98 Member of Equity Appeals Committee
1997 Board of the Royal National Theatre
1998 Lifetime Achievement Award (Los Angeles Outfest)
1999 Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
2000 Patron, Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
2004 Doctor of Letters, Leeds University
2005 Patron, New Peckham Varieties
2006 Lifetime Honorary Golden Bear Award, Berlinale
Special Olivier Award
2007 Order of the Companions of Honour
2009 Donostia (Lifetime Achievement) Award, San Sebastian Film Festival
2009 William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC
2009 Evening Standard Award: The Lebedev Special Award for outstanding contribution to British theatre
2014 Honorary Degree, Cambridge University: Doctor of Letters in Honour of his lengthy career as an actor