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Ian McKellen on Religious Bigotry, Out Actors, and His Epitaph

Ian McKellen, in New York to promote an AMC movie called The Prisoner, gave a typically eloquent and enlightened interview to the L.A. Times. Hopefully he's not thinking about leaving us anytime soon, but it's apparent mortality is on his mind.

Mckellen Said the actor: "When I've been asked what should be on my gravestone...I've said: 'Here lies Gandalf. He came out.' Two big achievements."

Said McKellen about religion: "I increasingly see organized religion as actually my enemy. They treat me as their enemy. Not all Christians, of course. Not all Jews, not all Muslims. But the leaders. . . . Why should I take the judgment of a declared celibate about my sexual needs? He's basing his judgment on laws that would fit life in the Bronze Age. So if I'm lost to God, organized religion is to blame."

He also talks about actors who make a deal with the devil to stay in the closet.

"The conventional wisdom is that if you are gay, you cannot play the romantic straight lead in a movie. They'd rather have 'don't ask, don't tell.' The proposition from Mephistopheles as you sign the agreement that you will become a Hollywood star is that you will lie about yourself. That's selling your soul. This business may involve disguise, but it's about telling the truth. And I don't think a closeted actor in this day and age can act as well as an actor who is out."

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Comments

  1. Geek alert! The Prisoner is only the greatest sci-fi cult show in the history of television. AMC is airing a mini-series this week that's a modern remake, and McKellen is certainly the best thing about it. And PS: I hear there's a gay storyline coming up tonight or tomorrow night.

    Long live Gandalf!

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 16, 2009 9:39:14 AM


  2. Ian McKellen is an amazing actor, an inspiring activist and probably one of the smartest people to ever grace the silver screen.

    Live long and prosper Ian and please never stop giving your opinion.

    Posted by: Bobby | Nov 16, 2009 9:53:51 AM


  3. "if I'm lost to God, organized religion is to blame."

    What a great statement. He is such an eloquent speaker.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 16, 2009 10:00:40 AM


  4. Sir Ian is an inspiration; would that any American actor be so erudite and honest-
    not going to happen-
    Long live Ian!

    Posted by: Nick | Nov 16, 2009 10:02:25 AM


  5. Oh, forgot to mention... Jim Caviezel (AKA Jesus) plays the protagonist in The Prisoner. I bet there were some interesting conversations on that set.

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 16, 2009 10:05:00 AM


  6. Caviezel is the reason I passed on watching The Prisoner. I use to like him but after his press junket with the Passion he made me want to puke. 'It's interesting that we have the same initials (JC) and are the same age'. Really, was Christ a douche like you Jimmy boy?

    McKellen on the other hand is brilliant in all he does and would never say such an insipid observation.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 16, 2009 10:14:13 AM


  7. Whereas McKellen is fantastic as Number Two, Caviezel is awful as Six. He's bland and witless. Patrick McGoohan played the character with so much charm and charisma, I'm surprised they hired such a blank canvas for the remake.

    Posted by: crispy | Nov 16, 2009 10:35:13 AM


  8. Sir Ian is a great talent and a wonderful inspiration to all out creative types.

    I had the pleasure of seeing him and Dame Helen Mirren on Broadway in Strindberg's Dance of Death. I will never forget that performance.

    His comments in this interview are articulate and spot on.

    Posted by: Alex | Nov 16, 2009 10:38:28 AM


  9. The Prisoner is my favorite show ever. I'm so curious to see what they pull for the last episode...

    Posted by: Cyd | Nov 16, 2009 10:50:58 AM


  10. My favorite quote:

    "There are still times in my life where I pull back from being totally honest and I can't imagine a single straight person who would understand that."

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Nov 16, 2009 11:57:20 AM


  11. Thank you once again Ian....

    Only wish actors like Michael Urie and the little twit on glee would take notice and inspiration.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Nov 16, 2009 12:21:25 PM


  12. Amen!

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 16, 2009 12:33:29 PM


  13. Brilliant, brilliant man! The gay-rights movement needs Ian McKellen to lead our cause.

    Posted by: Paul | Nov 16, 2009 12:47:53 PM


  14. Jake, are you listening?

    Posted by: indypol | Nov 16, 2009 2:37:13 PM


  15. Oh, how I adore Sir Ian.
    I was just telling someone today about his turn as Iago, which is the most brilliant I've ever seen.

    Posted by: Hypatia | Nov 16, 2009 7:27:15 PM


  16. What a classy guy! All those closeted actors, come out, come out where ever you are!

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 16, 2009 8:04:10 PM


  17. He's completely right. Organized religion is the enemy of not just gays but of all humanity...

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Nov 17, 2009 3:13:35 AM


  18. You had your chance to part from your wickedness but soon you will burn in hell.

    Posted by: Franciso Reyna | Nov 18, 2009 2:11:09 AM


  19. Above a 'Christian' comment. No wonder people turn away from the church. Ugh.

    Posted by: Mary | Mar 22, 2012 9:34:48 PM


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