25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

29 March 2005


From: simone

Q: I heard you wasnt by the international film festival "berlinale" on 11th February. What is happened ? I hope it isnt awful...because the media say you have a illness..

A: The taxi arrived as planned at 6.30a.m. but the driver neglected to ring my front door bell, which I was banking on to wake me. I slept through until it was too late to make my flight from Heathrow and the next one would not have got me to Berlin in time for the press interviews, so I stayed at home for the weekend, despite some desperate calls from Natasha Richardson and the other producers. I am not ill although a little guilty.


Q: I've just heard that there's a story being developed centering on Magneto and, more specifically, on his life before assuming that identity.

A: Guess what? I have heard something similar. A Magneto spin-off would probably be about his early life and therefore might not need my participation. We'll see.


Q: Hi Sir Ian. I saw you in Aladdin at the Old Vic (And you signed my LOTR book for me and had a photo with me - thank-you) and thought you were excellent. Extremely funny. Would you like to do any more pantomine in the future?

A: I should and I shall — next December at the same address, The Old Vic Theatre, we are going to revive Aladdin with some more up-to-date jokes and other improvements. Book now to avoid disappointment. (Not really, the box office isn't open yet awhile!)


From: John Wharton

Q; My wife and i were very impressed with your Aladdin Pantomime we experienced on Sunday 23rd jan. Did you keep any of the outfits!!!

A: The frocks are safely in storage. Whether Widow Twankey will be modelling any new ones next time only time and the budget will tell.


From: Rebekah A.

Q: I wonder if you managed to make it across the puddle to my little island home of Victoria when you were filming in Vancouver? If so, what did you think of it? (it's nicknamed "little England" for some odd reason")

A: Yes I have visited Vancouver Island. Carl Bessai's Emile was entirely filmed there and Victoria features clearly in the movie. I had a great month there working hard.


From: BK

Q: I am currently going to college to become a director/script writer/producer. Down the road, I want to direct a movie that I thought up, and I was wondering that if, a few years from now, obviously, I was to ask you to play a role in my movie, would you ever be intersted in collaboriting with a new director without much credibility?

A: All will depend on the quality of the script and whether the subject matter appeals to me. Then I'd ponder how appropriate I was to play the part. If all was positive I expect we would get on and a collaboration might start. That is what happened when I read Neverwas written and directed by Joshua Stern last year.


From: Leonard Smith

Q: Can I be the only admirer of your career that while watching your Gandalf, thought that surely "he" must be thinking that now must be the right time to do Lear. Remember outside of failing to make a film of the Scottish play, Laurence Olivier 's greatest dissapointment was not being the right age, commercial profile and have the right experience to play Lear (to young in '46-too old physically in '83) It seems to me that by the way you jogged off down the beach in the South Bank finale you "must" give it to us in the next few years especially as your star is at the moment in the ascendent.

A: I intend to take your advice within the next couple of years. You are right that an actor waiting until he is Lear's age will then be told old to play him.


From: Michael Blankenship

Q: I've just finished reading a book entitled "The Da Vinci Code" and wondered first if you've had a chance to read this wonderful story by Dan Brown and second, whether you had any thoughts that you'd like to share regarding any topic(s) whatsoever that might be covered in its storyline.

A: The Da Vinci Code is an intriguing tale of fiction that I enjoyed racing through. It's always puzzled me why a 33 year old rabbi 2000 years ago shouldn't be married. Whether Dan Brown has lit on the answer, I am not qualified to tell.

I did notice one error in the plotting. At the novel's climax, Sir Leigh Teabing uses his ID card to reveal his knighthood and so gain privileged access to Westminster Abbey. UK citizens don't yet have ID cards. Nor would a knighthood, in my experience, carry any weight with guardians protecting private places.


From: Matthew

Q: Looking over the backstage photos from Aladdin, I couldn't help but notice the delightfully naughty Christmas card in your dressing room. It made me curious: what sort of personal touches do you surround yourself with when you're doing a play?

A: Roger Allam and I were sharing a dressing-room that had been bizzarely clad with mirrored tiles on all its walls. More than usual I surrounded my place with cards and messages that had arrived for Christmas and the first night, so I didn't have to look at myself except when making up my face. You missed the important card of Dan Leno who played dame in the late 19th century. He created Mother Goose but also played Widow Twankey in 1896. I like tradition.


From: Emily

Q: I'm afraid this is rather a silly question, but just wondered how long it takes you to get into make-up/costume for Widow Twankey?

A: Once I had settled on the clown/womanly mask in red white and blue it got quicker as the run proceeded. I don't think I managed it in less than 30 minutes - probably because I was pleasantly distracted by chat with Roger Allam as he made himself up as Abbanazar.


Q: I live in the US, but I studied at university in the UK for a bit, and I have a question for you about university cinema schemes. I know how much I grew as a person by living in the UK, and my boyfriend is thinking about going, but he can't seem to find any universities that specialise in cinema. I was wondering if you have any advice that I could give him, because I really want for him to go.

A: I am an ignoramus on training for cinema but the following assessment is from a friend who isnt!

"Depends, of course, on area of specialisation. The National Film and Television School is undoubtedly the best in the 10 disciplines it teaches — but the most difficult to get into. It basically runs a two-year Master's Degree programme accredited by the Royal College of Art, in 10 specialisms. The 2006 January application is already closed in most (but not all) disciplines.

However, the National Film and Television School is about to start, in September, a one-year Director's Diploma, as a Foundation year for the Master's Course. Applications have not yet closed on that. So www.nftsfilm-tv.ac.uk would be a good place to start.

Apart from that there is a list of courses on the www.skillset.org website, as well as www.britfilm.com. I believe the British Film Institute also have a list of courses on their website. If it's really a university which is desired I would recommend Bournemouth. Basically a bit of internet research is required."

There you are and good luck to yr bf.


From: Alice

Q: Recently in NZ there has been an outcry from a very conservative church called Destiny Church, concerning the rights of gays, single parent families and couples not bound by marriage. They have had 2 protests against a Civil Union Bill which would give rights to these people. Fortunately there were counter-protests on the same day and I was a part of that because what they are saying affects me, because my parents are divorced and my mother is a lesbian. Also, Destiny Church hold their services in the hall at my school which I find very unnerving and disrespectful towards us students.

A: Tim Barnett the member of Parliament who successfully steered the new Civil Union law through the New Zealand Parliament has told me of the opposition from elements like the Destiny Church. Considering the new law, I think you should feel emboldened to complain to your school authorities if anyone on the premises challenges human rights in the way you suggest they do.

BENT (1979)

Q: I have watched Bent a few times and I think its fantastic, but is there any possibility of getting the home video, dvd or something of the play Bent where you played Max (1979)? I wish I could go behind time and watch it live in the 70s (I'm too young;)

A: It is the glory and the inconvenience of live theatre that it cannot be re-produced. No, there was no recording made of the 1979 production of Bent although I do have an unsteady video of the 1989 production (for one night only) at the Aldephi Theatre in London. It isn't good enough to distribute.

These days major theatre productions in London are kept on video for viewing at the British Theatre Museum. Aladdin has just joined the library there.


Q: I played baby Octavia in "A touch of love" - I was about 2 years old at the time. I have never seen the film and have been trying to get a copy for many years. Do you have any idea where I might track one down? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A: Good to hear from you again. You were a model baby, which is why you landed the role no doubt. I'm not sure how much you are seen in the film but all I can suggest is that you stay up night after night until you eventually catch one of its early morning screenings on television.




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