6 September 2003
From: email@example.com Vanessa
Q: In a recent visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London I was
delighted to spot your portrait by Clive Smith. Aside from this one and
the one by David Hockney are there any other paintings of you? What is it
like having your portrait painted?
A: During the Broadway run of
Dance of Death in 2001, I sat over 40 hours
for Clive Smith in my Westside apartment overlooking Central Park, for his
portrait commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery after his winning
their BP Portrait competition the previous year. His original plan to
reveal my slouching on a deep, white sofa with my playscript at my knees,
got drastically cut down he literally cut the canvas to size for the
finished painting, now more of a close-up. The skin texture is cleverly
captured in the oils Smith is famous for his skin. I think his portrait
of me looks like what I felt like, reclining for 40 hours on the sofa you
|I have turned down a few chances to be painted and photographed because
I don't enjoy sitting still for long periods. Clive was generous with tea
breaks. And I'm glad to be on the walls of one of my favourite galleries.
(Left: Ian McKellen by Clive Smith, oil on canvas 13 1/4
in. x 8 1/8 in.,
Portrait Gallery, London)
Q: Seeing as Hollywood has woken up to the tremendous talent you possess -
a talent that has bewitched me from that day at school when I 'forced' to
watch Trevor Nunn's Macbeth - I was (vainly) hoping you might use your
influence to suggest my dream project to those movie moguls you deal with. The life, and background to it, of Leonardo da Vinci has fascinated me
since I was a child. In my very humble opinion it would make a wonderful
piece of dramatic art, and a gloriously rich piece of cinema. I can think
of no living actor who could play the adult Leonardo other than yourself.
A: I hope you saw Mark Rylance as Leonardo on British TV recently. I
didn't unfortunately. Other memorable Leonardos include Frank
Langella (1983), Richard Ainley (1943), and John Glover (1991)
Q: Is there any 'official' way to get, purchase, obtain, acquire, procure,
buy or steal (only kidding!) a photo of you? I mean a photo of you as you
(not Gandalf, Magneto, James Whale, Richard II, etc, etc,etc).
A: Well ask the webmaster but can't you download something from the
galleries? We don't sell pictures (though some cinefan shops do).
[Webmaster's note: The National Portrait Gallery sells prints of the Clive Smith
Click here. Also, we often have drawings to give away signed
photos. Click here.]
Q: God evening, before I write you a letter one question, do you speak
A: Nein. Sorry.
Q: Hello! Just wanted to ask if Emile is going to be released
internationally or is it just going to be in Canada...
A: Emile will certainly be released outside its native Canada, although I
expect an early outing at this year's Toronto Film Festival. I nipped over
for less than a day (18 May) to this year's Cannes Film Festival, where
Emile was on the front page of the Hollywood Reporter's celebratory
edition and where I was guest of honour on the beach of La Croisette,
hosted by the ever-generous Hollywood Reporter. Stealthily in this and
other ways Emile's producers are introducing the film to
distributors worldwide, although don't expect an official release until
Ian McKellen arrives in Cannes, May 2003, greeted by committee sent by
In Toronto for Emile, 6 September 2003
Photo by Mike Cassese for Reuters
BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE
Q: Do you get to go to the cinema much these days? And if you do, what is
your local? I am kind of hoping you will say The Filmworks Greenwich as
this establishment is owned by UCI and I am an employee of the company .
Plus if you have, what is the most recent film you have seen? And did you
A: My local at the end of my street is the UCI cinemas on the
Isle of Dogs. The film I saw most recently, reduced for a miniature video
on British Airways, was Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore's
Oscar-winning exposÃ© of guns in USA with an appearance by Charlton Heston
where it's hard to say whether he is acting or not: either way, Highly
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Angela
Q: I have become an admirer, not only of your theatrical intelligence and
talent, but of your strength, your obvious clarity in your sense of self.
I am of the strong opinion that it takes not only a great deal of innate
will, but a vast and illuminating spirit to be a forthright and proud gay
man in any country, social circle, state, or occupation. After
browsing....well more like sitting up long nights until my arse was sore a
bit....reading each typed text again and again...mostly the journal
entries on activism and politics in your country re: age of consent,
homophobia etc...I have become even more of the opinion that such a thing
is respectable and quite refreshing to this 31 year old previously-silent
lesbian. I digested each meaningful and genuine phrase and song I felt and
heard in your writings, mustered up as much as could be found or created
within myself, and came out of the closet...so to speak. This done solely
on the encouragement I found on this website, never spoken as a "here
here, come forth oh lesbian" (haha) but implied to my spirit as a
significant hug, if you will. A matter of gravitational pull from within
the brain as I read and unto the heart as I began to feel. A simple thing,
really, that I read, was uplifted, and encouraged.
I am lighthearted in this new and unfamiliar territory of going about
my daily life without hiding or hushing one damnable thing about myself as
A: You certainly came forth oh previously-silent lesbian. Bravissima!
COMING OUT 2
Q: I commend you on your incredible openness with your sexuality. I am
still struggling with my own sexuality, as a bisexual Canadian female who
is very involved with theatre and the like. I am a teenager. I probably
would not have been able to come out in the theatrical community here in
my city, without your inspiration.
A: Thank you for letting me know and confirming that it can be
fun being gay, making connections to each other's problems across the
barriers of age, gender and geography. And if you doubt I had problems,
think I was 49 when I finally managed to do what you seem to have
accomplished at a third that age!
Congratulations and good luck.
From: email@example.com Patti
Q: If a stint as Dumbledore is not to be, then does the role of Alastair
"Mad-Eye" Moody appeal?? Would love to see you in the HP series...or any other film.
A: The length of the HP series may inevitably eventually bring more
vacancies amongst the senior wizardry on the Rowling estate. Meanwhile
I'll make do with Middle-earth.
From: Jeff Barker
Q: You look like a "chip off the old block," i.e., I thought the photo of
your father was you! Did (do) any of your family have theater experience,
A: My mother did a little amateur acting, as my sister still does in East
Anglia. My father played the piano in public but didn't act. My cousin
Michael was a chorus boy in West End musicals before he settled down. I
have my father's jaw, eyes and bags and big hands, ears and calves. He and
I both favour his father, who, as a successful non-conformist lay preacher,
was a performance artist.
Dennis Murray McKellen, 1950s
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Anna
Q: Once there was the biggest country of the world called Russia or
Russian Federation. There lived lots of fans of yours (maybe for you it is
not a lot (just 49,906,302, almost one 50 million of fans)). Once they
came to the Release of the Fellowship of the ring and you were NOT there.
Fans were very upset, but they had got hope that you will come to the
Release of The Two Towers. Three hours before release of TTT: somewhere
about hundred of people standing before the door of the Pushkinski cinema.
No one came. So now we are almost crying. Asking you our dear actors of
LORT (especially Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd,
Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, Eijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler
and of course the Director Peter Jackson) visit our precious country at
the 18 December at the Release of the ROTK. Thank you.
A: I am going to travel on the Return of the King trail
beginning with the world premiere at the Embassy Cinema, Wellington, North
Island, New Zealand on 1 December 2003. Then Los Angeles, London, Berlin,
Copenhagen to Denmark because 30%+ of the population have seen the first
two films and Peter Jackson is good to his fans. I shall pass along your
e-mail and see what happens. Thank you.