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More Ian McKellen Bios & Profiles


The most recent Ian McKellen biography is published on the main page.

Biography #2 (for Flushed Away)

Ian McKellen has been honored with more than 40 international awards for his performances on screen and stage, most recently a Lifetime Achievement Golden Bear from 2006 Berlin Film Festival.

He was born and raised in the industrial north of England and started acting professionally in 1961. After Cambridge University and a three-year apprenticeship with British regional theater companies, he rapidly established himself as the leading actor of his generation in Shakespeare and other classical plays in London.

His legendary performances as Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II stormed the 1969 Edinburgh Festival and were televised. In pursuit of the ideal theatre ensemble, he was a founder-member of the Actors' Company. As leading man for the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played Macbeth (opposite Dame Judi Dench), Romeo, Iago, and Toby Belch, and leading roles in plays by Brecht, Chekhov, Ibsen, Jonson, Shaw, and Stoppard. He has regularly starred at the National Theatre, most recently in Peter Pan.

McKellen also works regularly on stage in the U.S.A. In New York, he won every available award for his Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus; more recently, he starred in Dance of Death and hosted Saturday Night Live. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2005.

McKellen has also worked extensively in television in such productions as Stephen Frears' Walter, The Scarlet Pimpernel, And the Band Played On, Rasputin, Cold Comfort Farm, and in the longest running British soap, Coronation Street.

McKellen has made more than 40 movies; of late, has been discovered by a new generation of cinemagoers in his role as Magneto in the X-Men films as well as in his OscarÂ-nominated performance in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 1996, he co-produced, co-scripted and starred in his film version of Richard III. Four years later, he received his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of film director James Whale in Gods and Monsters. In summer 2006, McKellen received much critical acclaim for his portrayal of Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code.

McKellen recently delighted his fans by triumphantly playing Dame in the traditional pantomime Aladdin at Kevin Spacey's Old Vic Theatre; he also recently starred in Mark Ravenhill's The Cut at the Donmar Warehouse. He will return to the stage in March 2007 to play King Lear in the final production for The Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival, followed by a world tour.

He has been an eloquent advocate for gay rights since he came out in 1988. The following year, he was knighted for his contribution to the performing arts. A complete biography plus occasional diary entries and regular e-posts by McKellen can be found on www.mckellen.com.

Bio courtesy Paramount for "Flushed Away" (04-Mar-2007)

Biography #3 (for X-Men 2)

Last year, Ian McKellen was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Gandalf the Grey in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In September of 2001 he celebrated his fortieth anniversary as an actor with a return to Broadway, starring opposite Helen Mirren in Richard

Greenburg's new adaptation of Strindberg's Dance of Death, directed by Sean Mathias. Recently, he was a guest voice on The Simpsons.

McKellen, who was knighted in 1991 for his services to the performing arts, has been honored with more than thirty international awards for his performances on stage and latterly on screen. He won the Tony Award as Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus (1981); and an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor in HBO's Rasputin (1996).

He was European Actor of the Year for his screen version of Richard III (1996); and received Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Satellite nominations for Best Actor for his portrayal of Hollywood director James Whale in Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters (1999).

McKellen's numerous motion picture credits also include Swept From the Sea, Bent, Thin Ice, Restoration, Jack and Sarah, The Shadow, Cold Comfort Farm, And the Band Played On (for which he won a CableACE Award and received an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), Six Degrees of Separation, Last Action Hero, I'll Do Anything, The Ballad of Little Jo, Scandal, Plenty, Zina, The Keep, Walter, Priest of Love, The Promise, Alfred the Great, A Touch of Love/Thank You All Very Much and The Bells of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling.

McKellen was born in the industrial north of England on May 25, 1939, the son of a civil engineer. He first acted at school and at Cambridge University, where he studied English Literature and appeared in twenty-one undergraduate productions. Without any formal dramatic training, he made his professional debut in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Then, for three seasons, he worked his apprenticeship with other regional companies, culminating with the opening of the Nottingham Playhouse, where he was directed by his childhood hero, Tyrone Guthrie.

His first London appearance in A Scent of Flowers (1964) won him the Clarence Derwent Award and an invitation from Laurence Olivier to join his new National Theatre Company at the Old Vic Theatre. This was followed by two seasons with the touring Prospect Theatre, storming the 1969 Edinburgh Festival as Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II. These played for two sell-out seasons in London and were televised, as well. His Hamlet followed, and established McKellen as one of the leading classical actors of his generation. In 1972, he co-founded the democratically run Actors' Company, which visited the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974.

His work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon and in London (1974-78) included plays by Brecht, Chekhov, Ibsen, Marlowe, Shaw, Stoppard and Wedekind. For director Trevor Nunn he played Romeo (with Francesca Annis), Macbeth (with Judi Dench) Leontes, Toby Belch, Face and Iago (with Willard White).

At the Royal National Theatre, where he is a member of the Board, McKellen's hits include Wild Honey, Coriolanus, The Cherry Orchard, The Critic, Bent, Napoli Milionaria, Uncle Vanya, An Enemy of the People and as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in Peter Pan. As Richard III, he toured the world from Tokyo to Los Angeles and later co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the motion picture version.

His position as an openly gay advocate for social change has coincided with his career. He was the original Max in Sherman's Bent, and for the 1994 Gay Games in New York City, he devised and performed on Broadway his autobiographical anthology, A Knight Out at the Lyceum. Raising funds for local youth/gay/AIDS charities, this solo show has since been to South Africa, up and down the U.K. across the U.S. and, most recently, Canada, as A Knight Out in Vancouver, a benefit fundraiser for the Vancouver Playhouse, which he performed while shooting X2. McKellen continues as a member and volunteer for Stonewall UK, which he co-founded in 1988 to lobby gay/lesbian equality. He devises the annual Equality Show at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Bio courtesy Fox for "X-Men 2" (30-Apr-2003)