4 August 2004
Q: A word of thanks for Sir Ian, who came to Lancaster University
yesterday to receive an honorary degree. I asked him, rather nervously, to
sign the inlay of a DVD of one of his movies, which he proceeded to do
ever so-nicely. I'd been having a lousy week or three and it sort of
lifted my spirits up a bit having a big movie star not acting like a big
movie star after all! Will now see / buy all your movies so you can get
more rich ;)
A: I enjoyed getting a degree in my home county though I felt guilty
about having done too little to deserve it. I hope you enjoy the movies
although there's no financial reward for me or any other actor in the
sales of DVDs and videos.
HRH Princess Alexandra (right) presided as a Doctor of Letters (honoris
causa) was conferred on Sir Ian McKellen, Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, at
Lancaster University. Ian's stepmother Gladys McKellen (seated) attended
Photo by Nigel Slater
From: Paul F
Q: Just got back from the Derren Brown show in London last night. I was
extremely happy to see you sitting in the row behind me. I desperately
wanted to speak to you but appreciate that everyone is entitled to private
time without being hounded by the public. Did you enjoy the show?
A: Like the rest of the audience, I'd seen Derren Brown's television
shows, and was very impressed with his stage presence, his self-confidence
and his memory which underpin, I suppose, his trickery. I was invited
backstage and he wanted to show me his caricature of me (cf his
entertaining website) which he thought was on his mobile
phone. It wasn't.
So the Brown memory is fallible after all!
Q: Just curious, do you ever plan to have children in your life? (via
adoption,etc.) I think you'd make a great parent:)
A: I've left it too late so don't have the energy. When I was a
more appropriate age, gays didn't openly adopt or have children. It was a
responsibility in any case that I was happy to avoid.
From: ROBERT STRICKLAND
Q: GREETINGS FROM GEORGIA. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU ADMIRE THAT YOU
WOULD LIKE TO PORTRAY. ALSO, HAVE YOU EVER DONE ANY TENNESSEE WILLIAMS. I
THINK YOU WOULD MAKE A HELL'VA "BIG DADDY".
A: I have played a number of real people on film from Lawrence of
Arabia to Adolf Hitler but I have no ambitions to impersonate anyone else.
I'm a big fan of Tennessee Williams' plays but not when they are
done by British actors like me, with shaky American accents.
From: karen freer
Q: I'm doing a research project at university for my film studies
course about fandom, celebrities and stalkers/stalking. I haven't read
anything online about whether or not you have had your fair share of
stalkers but I thought maybe you had had a few fans that may have gone
slighter over the top in the past. If so I wondered if maybe you could
share some of it with me. I do not expect you to name people just the
experience of it and types of things people do.
A: Actors hope to entertain audiences by moving their emotions
and shifting their perceptions. This only gets dangerous when stalkers get
things wrong, confusing their fantasies with the effect that actors'
performances have on them. I have had a bad case of being followed around
many years ago but fortunately the misplaced enthusiasm faded once it was
made clear that it was not reciprocated by me.
Q: As I come from St Helens, I was really pleased to learn that you're
also from the northwest of England. Have you ever visited St Helens? Also,
with your Wigan background, are you a Rugby League fan, and if so, do you
get the chance to go to any matches?
A: I don't recall ever going to St. Helen's. I haven't been to a
rugby league game since our family left Wigan in 1952!
From: Gary Threlfall
Q: I have read about your fondness for Jaques Tati's "Mr Hulot's
Holiday" and must tell you it's one of my favourite films, I first saw it
when I was very young, and the initial scene with the reflected sunlight
making the bird sing blew my 8 year old mind. I wonder if you would like
to play a similar part yourself, the beauty being that it is universal
humour, who needs clever-clever scripts when the joy is all on screen to
see ? I think you would make a very good British Tati !!
A: I'd forgotten the bird! but it's typical of Tati's love of the
inconsequential. No-one could play Monsieur Hulot like his creator. He is
on a par with Chaplin's tramp and the onscreen personas of Buster Keaton
and Laurel & Hardy. Most of their comedy is based on mime rather than
words, so is as you say universal in its appeal.
Q: if you were offered to would you direct a movie?
A: Mmmmmmmaybeeeeee. I don't really think I'm fitted to the various
responsibilities that pile up on a film director's plate, although it must
be rewarding to imagine a story filmically. I wouldn't like to feel that a
great many people's talent and reputations were in my control.
Q: Did you ever meet or work with the
late Jeremy Brett?
A: I used to see him working at the Library Theatre in Manchester
mid-1950s, a very handsome young actor, whose face was once the model for
shop-window mannequins. Ten years later, we were both in Laurence Olivier's
National Theatre Company at the Old Vic where I think he replaced me
briefly as Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.
We never worked together. Latterly his television Sherlock Holmes was
electrifying, moody, neurotic, witty and, of course, handsome.
From: Leslie Ray
Q: Thank you for explaining what pantomime means in regards to the
British theatre. I've never been to London, after reading about your
upcoming performance, I might have to book a flight. I truly enjoy the
theatre, but I find the cost somewhat prohibitive. Are the prices like
that in London as well?
A: Once you have afforded the journey to London you will find that our
theatres are considerably cheaper than in, say, New York. The National
Theatre, for example, currently have performances for only Â£10: but all
the many subsidised companies are reasonably cheap although the commercial
theatres of the West End (musicals and long-running shows) charge around
Â£40. Remember that putting on a live show is always expensive because
[Webmaster's note: At today's exchange rate, Â£10 = $18.24. Airfare from
JFK to LHR on
Virgin Atlantic is $377.98, roundtrip economy 7-14 December.]