Sir Ian McKellen, 84, reveals ‘everything’ in his life changed for the better ‘almost overnight’ after coming out as gay in 1988

Sir Ian McKellen revealed in a recent magazine interview that his life changed ‘overnight’ after he came out as gay.

The 84-year-old legendary actor came out as gay in 1988 and he admits that it was a life-changing moment for him.

He told Variety: ‘Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better – my relationships with people and my whole attitude toward acting changed.’

Ian admits that coming out actually had a huge impact on his acting work.

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ star explained: ‘The kind of acting that I had been good at was all about disguise – adopting funny voices and odd walks.

Legendary actor: Sir Ian McKellen, shown earlier this month in London, revealed in a recent magazine interview that his life changed ‘overnight’ after he came out as gay

‘It was about lying to the world. I was no longer in the situation where I was running along beside the character explaining it to the audience. I just became the character.’

Ian also said he felt that it was difficult for non-gay people to relate to his struggle.

The veteran actor said: ‘People who are not gay just simply don’t know how it damages you to be lying about what you are and ashamed of yourself.

‘I was brought up at a time when it was illegal for me to have sex with a man. And that was not that long ago,’ he added.

Ian’s career has spanned more than six decades and although he’s increasingly aware of his own mortality, he doesn’t have any plans to retire anytime soon.

‘Retire to do what? I’ve never been out of work, but I’m aware that any minute now something could happen to me which could prevent me from ever working again,’ he said.

‘But while the knees hold up and the memory remains intact, why shouldn’t I carry on? I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now,’ Ian added.

Ian admitted, however, that retirement has come up frequently lately and recalled one critic who raised the idea after Ian forgot a line during previews of the stage play ‘Frank and Percy’.

Long career: The 84-year-old legendary actor, shown in 2014’s The Hobbit – The Battle Of The Five Armies, came out as gay in 1988 and he admits that it was a life-changing moment for him

TV star: Ian is shown with Marilyn Tayerson in a still from the 1972 TV show Country Matters

Marvel villain: The English actor has played Magneto in films based on Marvel Comics and is shown in the 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand

‘Instead of understanding that this happens from time to time, this critic says it was evidence that it was time for Ian McKellen to stop acting,’ Ian said. ‘Maybe I should challenge this man to a podcast where we could debate it.’

The actor, however, realized it might not be ‘a wise thing to do. It might just draw more attention to it. After all, I’ve long ago made my peace with critics.’

Ian can next bee seen in the upcoming British period thriller The Critic based on the 2015 novel Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn.

The Critic premiered in September at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film is set in London in 1934 and follows an actress who finds herself in a dark situation involving a theatre critic and his paper’s editor.

Ian was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. 

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