Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto in X-Men
Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he agreed to appear in the hit X-Men blockbuster films because the movies and characters resonate so much with gay people.
The multiple Tony, Academy and Emmy award nominee and LGBTI activist has found global fame thanks to his villainous role as Magneto and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.
In a video interview, together with co-star Patrick Stewart, for Buzzfeed, the 74-year-old openly gay British actor said that he was convinced to star in the first 2000 X-Men film by director Bryan Singer.
“I was sold it by Bryan who said ‘Mutants are like gays. They’re cast out by society for no good reason,’” explained McKellen
“And, as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Are they going to take the Xavier line — which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody — or are you going to take the alternative view — which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights. And that’s true. I’ve come across that division within the gay rights movement.”
He added that Marvel has told him that young Jewish, black, and gay people are among the X-Men comics’ biggest fans.
“These are all people who, well, feel a little bit like mutants,” he said.
McKellen also expressed his happiness with the wide support received by his X-Men co-star Ellen Page, who plays the character of Kitty Pryde, after she recently came out as gay.
“That gladdened my heart so much,” he said. “For people who are lonely… reading that about someone whose career they follow is a little bit of a help and encouragement to them to think it does get better.”
McKellen and Page star in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is set to open in South Africa on 23 May.
McKellen himself came out as gay in 1988 on BBC Radio, prompted by his concerns about the controversial Section 28 anti-gay law, which was being considered by the British Parliament at the time.