25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

29 January 2002


From: Richard Johnson comicmanuk@yahoo.co.uk

Q: I have just watched Larry and Vivien on British television: The Oliviers in Love. A very compelling programme in which you were perfect as narrator. Were you approached to narrate due to your similarity in your acting style, or your interest in this great actor and his life?

A: We theatre knights can get lumped together but perhaps it was because I worked in Sir Laurence's National Theatre company in the '60s I was thought appropriate — although, come to think of it, the same would also be true of Anthony Hopkins, Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi. I enjoyed seeing the rare film footage that accompanied the commentary.


From: Cory Moosman slowhand125@hotmail.com

Q: I'm curious as to how you spend your off days from the production? Perhaps not glamourous moments, but it has piqued my curiosity all the same.

A: Oh well these happy days, vainly searching the net for someone who hasn't enjoyed Fellowship of the Ring.

Sherlock Holmes

From: Charles Prepolec charles@bakerstreetdozen.com

Q: Have you ever been involved in any sort of project related to Sherlock Holmes?

A: Many actors have triumphed as Holmes ever since William Gillette, the first stage sleuth, starred in his adaptation of the Conan Doyle tales. My favourite so far was perhaps Jeremy Brett in the British television series, because he brought out Holmes' neuroses and eccentricities. It must be a fabulous part, all-knowing, all-achieving, obsessed. The least effective Holmes, was John Gielgud for American radio, hilariously unconvincing, particularly when attempting aural disguise. He had no ear for accents.

As for me, I've driven and walked down Baker Street thousands of times and have still never found number 22B.


From: Clovis clovis@patternsbymatrix.com

Q: As a professional costumer, I try hard to work with the actors using the ideas the director approved, but some folks are just impossible. And the worst ones (the I-wouldn't-wear-that-if-I-had-to-perform-naked crowd) rarely have anything constructive to add to the process. How much input do you have in costume design or selection? In general, what's your opinion of costume in the overall production of a film or play?

A: I can't recall working with a costume designer who didn't welcome constructive comments on initial designs, which can sometimes have been approved before the director has actually cast the actor who will model them! I always ask where the character keeps his money — pockets I love and things in them. Basically I think of costumes as clothes and don't much care for those which express an overall design concept (in for example colour and material) rather than belonging to the individual character's needs and tastes.

Small Gestures

From: Vincent

Q: I simply had to write and express a few thoughts. I am a 45 year old gay man who lives in the Deep South. Needless to say it was extremely difficult to grow up as a gay man here. I did not come out until I was 26. There were no role models for me to understand that I could be "normal" and still like men. Back then, I knew 3 young friends who committed suicide because they could not face their family, and more importantly, their friends reaction to their attempts at coming out. I finally saw a play called "Gemini", and realized that I was gay, and had to go be who I was. If not for that play... Tonight, I was sitting here at my computer, working and watching the Letterman show, when I saw you appear. I thought you were quite funny, and so obviously comfortable in your own skin. Then, you casually stated that "your boyfriend", and you had... I could not possibly share with you, just how important I thought those words were. They were obviously accepted by Letterman, and the crowd as just a small comment made, that really had nothing to do with the subject you were expressing. It was as if you just said something "normal". It is my opinion, your words, and the casual way you expressed them, had the impact on others, that the play had on me...that somewhere in the world, you just gave some guy the strength to stand up and be who he is. It is truly my belief, that by doing this simple thing, you affected more people than you can possibly imagine. So...I wanted to take a minute and thank you, for all of the young guys out there, who won't have to wait until they are 26 to hold the hand of their first boyfriend.

A: Whereas it is crucial that anti-gay laws should be repealed if ever gay people are to be at ease with themselves and with society, change can begin elsewhere in small gestures which challenge ingrained attitudes. For instance after coming out I made a little rule — always to greet men and women equally. So if, on parting, I had previously kissed the women but. shaken hands with the men, I decided to embrace them both. Sometimes the straight men get confused but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and I think most people I mix with understand. As for acknowledging that I have a boyfriend, in private and public, it is part of my determination never to disguise my sexuality particularly from those who might not know that I am gay — only polite not to mislead folks, after all.

Comedy and . . .

Q: I watched your interview on David Letterman last night and I must say, I have never seen you do an interview before and I had no idea that you were so funny, which leads me to this question, have you ever done comedy before ? I also admire your honesty about being a gay man. I am 29 years old and still living a lie. I think you are the best for being out and open about your life and who you are.

A: Since my earliest days acting with regional repertory theatres in UK, I have tried to understand how comedy works. Anyone who has ever told a joke or funny story about themselves will know, for instance, the importance of setting up the "tag-line" or comic conclusion. This and other techniques are necessary for actors as there are very few plays without potential laughter in them. Hamlet has lots of jokes. Gandalf has a few too.

I hope that before you are 30, perhaps, you will be able to tell the truth and not leave it, as I did, until you are nearly 50!

Just One Thing

From: Maxxwell T.Denton midianmtd@hotmail.com

Q: What is the one thing you would change in the world?

A: Perhaps "being asked questions to which I have no answer..."


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