Sir Ian McKellen on ‘Mr. Holmes’ and Why Coming Out Made Him a Better Actor

Ian McKellen in 'Mr. Holmes'

My acting stopped being about disguise and became about truth which suits the camera, so my film career took off when I came out.” – Ian McKellen

 

Sir Ian McKellen currently stars in Mr Holmes, a film about an aging Sherlock Holmes who struggles to come to terms with his memory loss. At 76, the actor is lucky enough to not have to deal with such a plight, but he can empathize.

“I’ve known people like that, friends and family, and it’s part of everyday life as you get older measuring your own reactions to things and wondering how long it will be till you can’t remember what on earth they’re talking about,” he says. “So it wasn’t a hard puzzle. You look into yourself and other people. It’s not painful to do that. I played King Lear who is a more extreme example of someone who is losing it.”

As McKellen says, it’s all about learning to work with what you have, as he had to do once when he lost his voice right before a one man performance.

“One-man show, nobody has to come on, audience couldn’t hear a word I was saying,” he says. “I laid down and did some voice exercises but I wasn’t embarrassed. A friend said afterwards, ‘It was wonderful because you felt so at home.’…If something goes wrong with myself, I don’t disguise it. We put a microphone on me eventually and I got through but I think I rather enjoyed it.”

“So I carry on,” McKellen, says, explaining that he never considered cancelling the show. “So there we are and I think that’s the spirit which gets you through any performance — something goes wrong, it’s a bit of a challenge, [but] collectively you can put it right.”

Openly gay, McKellen served alongside Sir Derek Jacobi as a Grand Marshall for New York’s Pride parade this year, which came the day after marriage equality was legalized across the U.S. A momentous occasion and one for great celebration but McKellen recalls a time growing up when it was impossible to be so open about your sexuality.

“You just thought this was the way it was supposed to be,” he says. “I didn’t feel put on or disadvantaged, just this is how it’s meant to be. I suppose in a more extreme situation, that’s what slaves must have thought, they couldn’t see a way out of it, this was it.

“I had the compensation of acting and escaping into a world where I didn’t have to worry. I didn’t have to disguise because the whole conceit was a pretend reality. I think that’s why such a lot of successful actors are gay. They couldn’t cope with the real world, weren’t allowed to show their real emotions so they escaped into a pretend world.”

McKellen credits his public coming out in 1988 with making him a better actor, since he could finally bring truth to his performance.

“I became a better friend, a better son, better brother, better uncle, better traveler, certainly a better actor,” he explains. “My acting stopped being about disguise and became about truth which suits the camera, so my film career took off when I came out.”

Source: NY Daily News

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Michael-Shannon-Nocturnal-Animals.jpg
Michael Shannon on ‘Nocturnal Animals’: “From Day 1, I felt pretty locked into [the character]. It’s pretty mysterious”
"When you’ve got really great writing, it makes it easy." - Michael Shannon
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/giovanni-ribisi-sneaky-pete.jpg
Why Giovanni Ribisi Never Intended to Do a Show Like ‘Sneaky Pete’ and When He Finally Decided to “Chase Being an Actor”
"A friend of mine introduced me to the Actors Studio and Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro and Gary Oldman. It really was a revolution for me." - Giovanni Ribisi
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/tobias-menzies-outlander.jpg
Outlander’s Tobias Menzies on Preparation and the “Most Precious Commodity” of Filmmaking
Tobias Menzies: "One of the great luxuries when you have a bit of time is that you can give yourself a few different routes through a scene"
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/watch-conversations-with-miles-t.jpg
Watch: Conversations with Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart of ‘Bleed for This’
Teller and Eckhart speak about preparing to portray a boxer and his trainer in this inspirational comeback story.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Crissy-Metz.jpg
‘This Is Us’ Star Chrissy Metz on Her Long Road to Success
"When I booked 'This Is Us', I had 81 cents in my bank account" - Crissy Metz