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Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen has been honored with over 50 international acting awards during his half-century on stage and screen. He is treasured worldwide as Magneto in the X-MEN films and Gandalf in THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy.

In THE HOBBIT Trilogy he again plays Gandalf the Grey, the role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award in Peter Jackson's THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. As Gandalf the White in the other two LORD OF THE RINGS films, he shared the SAG Award for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast Performance.

As the gay film director James Whale, in Bill Condon's GODS AND MONSTERS (1998) he received his first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, plus an Independent Spirit Award and a British Independent Film Award. The same year, top critics groups elected him Best Actor, as the Nazi-in-hiding in Bryan Singer's APT PUPIL. For his classic performance in Richard Loncraine's RICHARD III, which he produced and co-wrote, he was named 1996 European Actor of the Year.

His long list of film successes include THE KEEP (1983), PLENTY (1985), SCANDAL (1988), SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1993), RESTORATION (1995), BENT (1997), COLD COMFORT FARM (1995), and THE DA VINCI CODE (2006).

For his extensive television work, McKellen is a five-time Emmy nominee, most recently for the PBS presentation of his monumental KING LEAR (2008); the British miniseries THE PRISONER (2009); and his comic guest spot on EXTRAS (2006), remembered for the viral catch-phrase: How do I act so well? He earlier received a Golden Globe award for his Tsar Nicholas II in the telefilm RASPUTIN (1996). He is most proud of his work as the mentally handicapped WALTER (1982 Royal Television Award); in HBO's AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (1993 Cable ACE Award), about the origins of AIDS; and a short spell in the UK's longest-running soap, CORONATION STREET (2005).

Born and raised in the north of England, 73-year-old McKellen attended Cambridge University and since 1961 has worked non-stop in the British theatre. He has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London. He has won Olivier Awards for MACBETH (1976-78), THE ALCHEMIST (1977), BENT (1979), WILD HONEY (1984), and RICHARD III (1990); plus Evening Standard Awards for his performances in CORIOLANUS (1984) and OTHELLO (1989) and for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre (2009).

In 1981, he won every available award, including a Tony for Best Actor, as Salieri in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer's AMADEUS. He was most recently in New York in DANCE OF DEATH (2001) with Helen Mirren. Over a decade, he toured his solo entertainment Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare throughout four continents, where on DVD it is daily viewed in schools and universities. He astonished his fans as Widow Twankey in the Christmas pantomime at the Old Vic in London (2004 & 2005), and in WAITING FOR GODOT (2009), with Patrick Stewart, he broke all box-office records in London and on UK and world tours.

In 1991, Sir Ian was knighted, for his outstanding contribution to theatre. He is co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008, the Queen personally appointed him Companion of Honour for his services to drama and to equality.

Complete professional credits and personal writings are on www.mckellen.com.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2012.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Ian McKellen Facts

Birth NameIan Murray McKellen
BirthdayMay 25, 1939 (83)
BirthplaceBurnley, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 11" (1m80)  How tall is Ian McKellen compared to you?
Awards2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role (for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
1997 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Film (for Rasputin)

Selected Filmography

Mr. Holmes
Beauty and the Beast
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
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