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Sir Ian McKellen shares how his life ‘changed for the better’ after coming out

The esteemed actor has also revealed his worst filming experience.

By Alastair James

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen (Photo: Attitude)

Sir Ian McKellen has discussed how coming out changed him, both personally and professionally.

The legend of stage and screen, 84, touched upon the subject in a recent interview with Variety where he discussed his theatre work and his approach to acting.

Besides a production of Macbeth, McKellen attributes his coming out with changing things.

McKellen, who helped found the charity Stonewall, came out in 1988 partly in response to Thatcher-era laws such as Section 28.

“Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better — my relationships with people and my whole attitude toward acting changed,” the Lord of the Rings actor told Variety.

McKellen continued, explaining that he found himself more able to connect emotionally with his characters, which he believes helped him when it came to working in film.

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con (Image: Gage Skidmore/WikiCommons)

The esteemed actor then described what it could be like for gay men before they come out publicly.

“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.”

Elsewhere in the interview, McKellen also revealed which filming experience was the worst for him.

As it turns out, Michael Mann’s The Keep holds that position.

“Michael Mann said to me, ‘You’re playing this Romanian.’ So I went to Romania to scout it out, and I learned how to speak with a Romanian accent.

“Then on the first day of shooting, Michael told me he wanted me to speak with a Chicago accent. Well, I couldn’t do that, and it got worse from there,” McKellen recalled.