Ian McKellen (photo ©Gage Skidmore) was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, England.
Ian McKellen’s family moved to Wigan shortly after World War II broke out and remained there until 1951, when they moved to Bolton. During his childhood he had the opportunity to watch Shakespeare’s plays remaining fascinated and after a few years he began acting at school. After studying at the University of Cambridge he kept on studying theater working for a few years for small theater companies. In 1964 he was invited to join the National Theatre Company.
During the 1960s, Ian McKellen started having roles in some television productions such as BBC’s 1966 drama “David Copperfield” and later also in cinema productions but for a long time established himself above all as a stage actor building a reputation that kept on growing in the 1970s. Over time he earned international fame while continuing to work on stage. He started getting roles in important movies such as “Scandal” (1989) and “Last Action Hero” (1993) up to “Gods and Monsters” (1998), for which he won a number of awards. On television the role of Tsar Nicholas II in the TV movie “Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny” (1996) earned him a Golden Globe.
Ian McKellen’s participation in the movie “Apt Pupil” was his first work with director Bryan Singer, with whom he kept on collaborating when he played for the first time the character of Magneto in “X-Men” (2000). The actor reprised the role in various movies of the following years again for Bryan Singer except in “X-Men: The Last Stand”, directed by Brett Ratner. In 2001 the first movie of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was released, in which the actor plays Gandalf, a role reprised in the following decade in “The Hobbit” trilogy, with both trilogies directed by Peter Jackson.
In recent years Ian McKellen participated in the miniseries “The Prisoner” (2009) and in a “Doctor Who” episode, was the protagonist of the movie “Mr. Holmes” (2015) playing a Sherlock Holmes now old and had roles in the 2017 version of “Beauty and the Beast” and “All is True” (2018).
During his life Ian McKellen had various romantic relationships but only in 1988 he publicly revealed his homosexuality. From that moment he became an activist of the rights of what was later called the LGBT community, an acronym expanded over the years.
In addition to the various awards received for his performances, Ian McKellen received the British honors of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, a knighthood in 1991 and was made a Companion of Honour in 2008. In 2014 he was awarded Freedom of the City of London.
Today Ian McKellen is very well known to the general public thanks to his roles in highly successful sagas but his reputation has been remarkable for decades. His name is linked to productions at the moment in various stages so even if he’s no longer a boy we can still see him in new roles.