Sir Ian Murray McKellen CBE (born May 25, 1939) is a Shakespearean actor, widely known for his roles as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, and Magneto in the X-Men Film Series, as well as the title character in his 1995 Setting Update adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. He also lent his voice to a certain polar bear, and the Great Intelligence in the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special. He starred with Derek Jacobi in a series called Vicious, a gay Dom Com about a long-partnered male couple.
He's also openly gay and an ardent supporter of gay rights. He came out to the public in a BBC radio interview when the British government was in the process of passing Section 28, a law that effectively prohibited schools from even mentioning homosexuality in any sort of context to students (it was in force from 1988 to 2003). He notes that, although he'd been out to family, friends, and coworkers, coming out to the general public was such a liberating experience that he gained access to a new level of emotion and he could add more depth to his acting.
He's also authorized to perform marriages, as he officiated the September 2013 wedding of his friend Patrick Stewart to Sunny Ozell.
- 1983 The Keep as Dr. Theodore Cuza
- 1993 Last Action Hero as Death
- 1993 Six Degrees of Separation as Geoffrey
- 1994 The Shadow as Dr. Reinhardt Lane
- 1995 Richard III as Richard III
- 1996 Rasputin as Czar Nicholas II
- 1998 Gods and Monsters as James Whale
- 1998 Apt Pupil as Kurt Dussander
- X-Men film series as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
- The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as Gandalf
- 2005 Neverwas as Gabriel Finch
- 2006 The Da Vinci Code as Sir Leigh Teabing
- 2007 The Golden Compass as Iorek Byrnison (voice)
- 2015 Mr. Holmes as Sherlock Holmes
- 2017 Beauty and the Beast as Cogsworth
- 2019 Cats as Gus the Theater Cat
- 2006 Extras as Ian McKellen
- 2009 The Prisoner (2009) as 2
- 2012 Doctor Who as The Great Intelligence
- 2013+ Vicious as Freddie Thornhill
Tropes associated with his work:
- Actor Allusion: His appearance on Have I Got News for You had constant references to his role in The Lord of the Rings.
- Enforced Method Acting: He hosted Saturday Night Live, and in one sketch played Dame Maggie Smith, being interviewed on Weekend Update. At one point he asked Jimmy Fallon, "Kiss for luck?" Fallon leaned over, clearly expecting a peck on the cheek. Ian grabbed him and gave him an open-mouthed smooch right on the lips, leaving Fallon visibly stunned. It was hilarious.
- I Am Not Spock: Completely averted. He makes no secret that he loved playing the role of Gandalf and will happily do impressions of the character for fans or interviews. See Running Gag.
- Large Ham: Just check him giving instructions on changing a flat tire.
- Meta Casting: In Gods and Monsters, he played James Whale, the director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, who was homosexual like McKellen.
- Running Gag: He is often invited to speak at schools and universities. Every time, he makes this joke in reference to a certain scene from The Lord of the Rings.