25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

27 July 2004


From: Andy Isaacs

Q: Your role in the up and coming Panto "Aladdin" (which I very much hope to see): coming from a 'serious' acting background do you see it as a challenge or welcome break to play a dame? And does it require one to use a different approach/method ?

A: I have always had catholic tastes as a theatre-goer and seen as many pantomimes and variety shows as I have Shakespeare productions from childhood onwards. To play Dame has been a long-held ambition. It is a specialised art which I am already taking advice on from experts. I'll say more once I've done it.


From: Derek Lavery

Q: Dear Sir Ian, I was reading the Torygraph the other day (not mine you understand, just skimming through a colleague's copy - more of a Grauniad person myself) and stopped to read an article about yourself wherein you were described as the star of Star Wars and Harry Potter. What with X-men and Lord of the Rings I'm surprised you had the time! I should be very grateful if you would let me know where to find you in Star Wars and Harry Potter as I seemed to have missed you first time round.

A: Wizards can do most things but not apparently stop the right-wing press from printing untruths! Not that I mind being confused with Alec Guinness or Michael Gambon...


From: Dawn

Q: Are guest signings/conventions, something you would consider attending if asked?

A: I went to Comic-Con in San Diego in 2000 and enjoyed meeting the devotees of X-Men and Tolkien.


Q: I wanted to say how lovely it was to hear you mention Sir Angus Wilson on Jonathan Ross' show the other month. Angus was my great great uncle and I often think that he is a brilliant, yet forgotten author.

A: Apart from his writings, Sir Angus is notable as the first openly gay man to be knighted.


From: Oli Seadon

Q: I am a student at the University of Kent, directing 'Bent' (for performance from 18-20th November 2004 at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury). A lecturer (Darryll Grantley, just in case you'd remember) told me that he'd driven you to Kent University a few years back to give a talk about Section 28. Given that Kent is the only English county yet to repeal the law - instead making fuzzy alterations - and 'Bent' could, perhaps, act as a significant protest (though maybe I'm expecting too much)... I was just wondering if anything could be done to 'lure' you back to Canterbury for a return visit - to give a talk, or even just to make an appearance.

A: In November I'll be rehearsing for Aladdin, otherwise I should have liked to revisit the Gulbenkian. I played there in 1978 with the Royal Shakespeare Company's Twelfth Night and Three Sisters which coincided with a session of the Church of England's synod meeting and there were jokes about what the actress said to the bishop.

My visit to your university was my first public appearance as an out gay man. I shared a platform with Derek Jarman. Give my best to my ex-chauffeur please.

Bent is a great play to perform and to see and has educated the world about the Nazis' treatment of gays. I hope it also alerts your audiences to the iniquity of Section 28's attempt to stifle discussion of homosexuality in local schools. Your production takes place on the first anniversary of its repeal nationwide and it is shocking that some Kent councillors should wish to bring it back.


From: Gary Peckham

Q: I've only been "out" 15 months but life has been great since. You were one who helped by your high profile example as I'm 36. Even out in work now in the local tax office in Kent. I used to be so concerned about people finding out esp. as a manager and now hoping they will find out so I can be me. Thanks for your example.

A I'm sure life will continue to feel better. You should go and see Bent (cf previous E-Post).


From: Jim

Q: I have just finished watching your appearance on the South Bank Show. I have never been comfortable with the fact that I am Gay, to the extent that at 32 I still haven't had a relationship. I know I cant "be" gay until I am comfortable with the fact that "I am" gay. Your programme made me look at things a little differently and although I may feel differently in the morning, at the moment I am a little more comfortable with the "I am" bit. I just hope that one day I have the courage to be as proud and as happy as you came across in the programme.

A: I hope you didn't feel differently next morning because once you start the coming out process you will feel more confident and happy and more the sort of person other people like. May that "one day" be soon.


From: ray wilcockson

Q: The South Bank Show left you running free (at last!) on Morecambe sands. Have you written about Morecambe? Have you memories of its theatres? I write as an active member of The Friends of the Winter Gardens, a charity group currently poised to buy this Victorian theatre to restore and re-open after 27 years lying empty.

A: I know the northern side of the Sands where I visit my step-mother at Kent's Bank but I've only been to Morecambe once. The best of luck with the Winter Gardens restoration.


From: Martin Wolfenden

Q: Was just writing to say how much I enjoyed The South Bank Show that Ian recently did. Not only was it a tantalising peep into his rather busy life but we got a wonderful view of his rather nice bottom. :-).

A: In the South Bank Show about my acting year in 1984, there was a full-frontal shot as I showered during the National Theatre's Coriolanus. I suppose the SBS thought it was time to see things from a different perspective.


Q: We at The Scout Association are very much looking forward to your portrayal of Baden-Powell in Radio 4's 'Be Prepared.' For the benefit of the visitors to the national website, can you tell me what attracted you to the role, whether you have a personal connection with Scouting and what your thoughts are on Baden-Powell's legacy today. (Scouting celebrates its centenary in 2007)

A: I hope by now you've listened to and approved of Be Prepared which gives a glimpse into Baden-Powell's private life. I listened to a few of his speeches to half-mimic his accent and voice.

Bolton School had its scout troop but when I applied to join was told that there were no vacant places. I know very little about the movement then or now but admire the spirit of group and personal fulfilment which seem to be at its core.


From: Stephanie W.

Q: I recently had the great pleasure of seeing Hugh Jackman's performance as Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz" at the Imperial Theatre in NYC. I've gained a whole new level of respect for his talent. Have you seen him perform it? If so, what did you think?

A: Yes I loved seeing Hugh revelling in the show which was written by my old friend Martin Sherman who also wrote Bent and other gay-related scripts. I wasn't surprised by Hugh's dancing and singing because I first met him when he was doing both as Curly in the National Theatre's production of Oklahoma.


Q: I am part of the advanced theatre school at New Peckham Varieties and i completed my Guildhall speech and drama exams in February (2nd Grade). I know that you have spoken with Teresa Early our Director and are hopefully coming to see our latest production at Naylor's Yard on the 17th of July. Also I just wanted to know what exactly you would be looking for in our actresses and actors. P.s. i hope you enjoy it and thankyou for agreeing to come it really means alot to us at the Magic Eye theatre.

A: I've just returned from a very happy visit to see Naylor's Yard and was impressed by the company spirit of the young performers, all of whom live within a mile of the theatre. It was my first visit and I didn't know what to expect. It is a prime example of how theatre can advantage children who have otherwise little encouragement to express their individuality. Good luck with your own acting.


Q: What do you think about President Bush wanting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? I happen to think that the lot of them are homophobic.

A: I am glad that the Senate has rejected the President's misguided initiative.



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