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Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen

Birthday: 1939-05-25 · Known For: Acting

107 Movies · 13 TV Series

Biography

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Personal Life

McKellen and his first partner, Brian Taylor, a history teacher from Bolton, began their relationship in 1964. Their relationship lasted for eight years, ending in 1972. They lived in London, where McKellen continued to pursue his career as an actor. For over a decade, he has lived in a five-storey Victorian conversion in Narrow Street, Limehouse. In 1978 he met his second partner, Sean Mathias, at the Edinburgh Festival. This relationship lasted until 1988, and according to Mathias, was tempestuous, with conflicts over McKellen's success in acting versus Mathias's somewhat less-successful career. The two remained friends, with Mathias later directing McKellen in Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2009. The pair entered into a business partnership with Evgeny Lebedev, purchasing the lease of The Grapes public house in Narrow Street.McKellen is an atheist. In the late 1980s, McKellen lost his appetite for every kind of meat but fish, and has since followed a mainly pescetarian diet. In 2001, Ian McKellen received the Artist Citizen of the World Award (France).He has a tattoo of the Elvish number nine, written using J. R. R. Tolkien's constructed script of Tengwar, on his shoulder in reference to his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and the fact that his character was one of the original nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring. The other actors of "The Fellowship" (Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Sean Bean, Dominic Monaghan and Viggo Mortensen) have the same tattoo. John Rhys-Davies, whose character was also one of the original nine companions, arranged for his stunt double to get the tattoo instead.He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006. In 2012, McKellen stated on his blog that "There is no cause for alarm. I am examined regularly and the cancer is contained. I've not needed any treatment."He became an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church in early 2013 in order to preside over the marriage of his friend and X-Men co-star Patrick Stewart to the singer Sunny Ozell.McKellen was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by Cambridge University on 18 June 2014. He was made a Freeman of the city of London on Thursday 30 October 2014. The ceremony took place at Guildhall in London. McKellen was nominated by London's Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf, who said he was chosen as he was an "exceptional actor" and "tireless campaigner for equality". He is also an Emeritus Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford.

Early Life

McKellen was born on 25 May 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, the son of Margery Lois (née Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen. He was their second child, with a sister, Jean, five years his senior. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, his family moved to Wigan. They lived there until Ian was twelve years old, before relocating to Bolton in 1951, after his father had been promoted. The experience of living through the war as a young child had a lasting impact on him, and he later said that "only after peace resumed ... did I realise that war wasn't normal." When an interviewer remarked that he seemed quite calm in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, McKellen said: "Well, darling, you forget—I slept under a steel plate until I was four years old.”McKellen's father was a civil engineer and lay preacher, and was of Protestant Irish and Scottish descent. Both of McKellen's grandfathers were preachers, and his great-great-grandfather, James McKellen, was a "strict, evangelical Protestant minister" in Ballymena, County Antrim. His home environment was strongly Christian, but non-orthodox. "My upbringing was of low nonconformist Christians who felt that you led the Christian life in part by behaving in a Christian manner to everybody you met." When he was 12, his mother died of breast cancer; his father died when he was 24. After his coming out as gay to his stepmother, Gladys McKellen, who was a member of the Religious Society of Friends, he said, "Not only was she not fazed, but as a member of a society which declared its indifference to people's sexuality years back, I think she was just glad for my sake that I wasn't lying anymore." His great-great-grandfather Robert J. Lowes was an activist and campaigner in the ultimately successful campaign for a Saturday half-holiday in Manchester, the forerunner to the modern five-day work week, thus making Lowes a "grandfather of the modern weekend".McKellen attended Bolton School (Boys' Division), of which he is still a supporter, attending regularly to talk to pupils. McKellen's acting career started at Bolton Little Theatre, of which he is now the patron. An early fascination with the theatre was encouraged by his parents, who took him on a family outing to Peter Pan at the Opera House in Manchester when he was three. When he was nine, his main Christmas present was a fold-away wood and bakelite Victorian theatre from Pollocks Toy Theatres, with cardboard scenery and wires to push on the cut-outs of Cinderella and of Laurence Olivier's Hamlet.His sister took him to his first Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, by the amateurs of Wigan's Little Theatre, shortly followed by their Macbeth and Wigan High School for Girls' production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with music by Mendelssohn, with the role of Bottom played by Jean McKellen, who continued to act, direct, and produce amateur theatre until her death.In 1958, McKellen, at the age of 18, won a scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he read English literature. He has since been made an Honorary Fellow of the College. While at Cambridge, McKellen was a member of the Marlowe Society, where he appeared in 23 plays over the course of 3 years. At that young age he was already giving performances that have since become legendary such as his Justice Shallow in Henry IV alongside Trevor Nunn and Derek Jacobi (March 1959), Cymbeline (as Posthumus, opposite Margaret Drabble as Imogen) and Doctor Faustus. During this period McKellen had already been directed by Peter Hall, John Barton and Dadie Rylands, all of whom would have a huge impact on McKellen's future career.

Movies & TV Series

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