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Sir Ian McKellen Fights Back After 'Fruity' Remark From 'Homeland' Star Damian Lewis

LewisSir Ian McKellen, one of the finest British actors of the past several decades, and an openly gay man, was recently the butt of Homeland star Damian Lewis's (right) unpleasant commentary. Lewis mentioned that after getting his start in theater, he was glad to get out early on. Otherwise, he would run the risk of becoming "one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.”

Though McKellen is not mentioned by name, Gandalf the Grey took it upon himself to offer a series of pointed and rather enlightened retorts.

The Independent reports:

The X-Men actor went on to describe Lewis’ statement as “a fair comment”, before adding: “To rebut it: I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up.

“I've always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You've only got to see my early work to see that.

“As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer's voice: to fill a large space. It is unnatural. Actors have to be heard and their voice may therefore develop a sonorous quality that they can't quite get rid of, so you think actors are as pompous as their voice is large. I suppose Damian was thinking of that a little bit, too.”

SiriansmilesMcKellen (right) also took the time to point out the conflicted and deeply closeted position of many gay artists, and attempted to assuage their fears.

“It's true of A-lists all over the world - A-list priests, A-list politicians. What will other people think? Will people still vote for me? Will people come and see me act?

“They're warned by the people who surround them - agents and managers, who have a living to make and are worried that the actor will get pigeonholed.”

“I don't think the audience gives a damn,” he added. “You don't have to be straight to play Gandalf. Anyway, who says that Gandalf isn't gay? I loved it when JK Rowling said that Dumbledore was gay.”

And in his final deconstruction of Lewis's remarks, Sir Ian took a stance on Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws, and made sure to mention the artists whose work he will always regard highly. 

“That's why I can't go to Russia... They couldn't protect me from those laws. Two and a half hours from London! In the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Rudolf Nureyev - gay artists whose sexuality informed their work,” he said.

Check out Sir Ian McKellen, now on Broadway in Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land, and soon to be back in theaters as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

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  1. BRAVO, Sir Ian, and Damian, can't wait to see you in your next short-lived police drama.

    Posted by: fuzzywuzznt | Dec 10, 2013 3:21:41 PM

  2. Right, alienate a big part of your audience and their friends and families, too. Way to go, toolbox.

    Posted by: screamingqueen | Dec 10, 2013 3:23:02 PM

  3. who's Damien Lewis?

    Posted by: terry | Dec 10, 2013 3:24:43 PM

  4. Wizards are the best anyway.

    Posted by: Ytr | Dec 10, 2013 3:26:19 PM

  5. three snaps in a Z-formation for Sir Ian!!!!

    well met. indeed.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 10, 2013 3:26:20 PM

  6. McKellen must have meant Nijinsky and not Nureyev. While Nureyev may have swung both ways, he was quite a womanizer.

    Posted by: Topol | Dec 10, 2013 3:28:22 PM

  7. Sorry to see his comment in reference to Sir Ian McKellen. I would ask: which is the most demanding type of acting? stage or film. I would suggest that a long, varied, and strong background in stage acting would help Damien endure as both a stage AND screen actor. That was an unfortunate comment that, I think, reflects poorly on Damien's understanding of acting, and suggests that he thinks the most significant form of acting is the type that makes lots of money and creates fame through film work only.

    Posted by: Dave | Dec 10, 2013 3:29:11 PM

  8. Hmmm, I was getting really tired of Homeland this season. I think this might put me over the edge in deciding to quit after the next two episodes conclude this 3rd and worst season.

    I like to think i'm the kind of person who doesn't judge's an artist's work by their personal life ... but I notice it's been a long long time since I've seen any Mel Gibson movies. Sorry, Damian, you may be next on my list.

    Posted by: Zlick | Dec 10, 2013 3:29:29 PM

  9. Homeland was halfway decent in season 1 but now Claire Dane's performances are the only thing propping it up from cliched mediocrity.

    I've always found Lewis' entire career to be vastly overrated. He strikes me as incredibly narcissistic in interviews as well. Once the show is finished his career will hopefully be too. One thing for sure is he'll never come remotely close to McKellen's performances, film catalog, or legacy.

    Posted by: Leo | Dec 10, 2013 3:31:41 PM

  10. Messing with an old queen it's like fooling with a cobra "just to see if it bites", Damian Lewis is a basic man, and decided to show his misery in a tw@t comment, poor choice

    Posted by: Mark | Dec 10, 2013 3:34:58 PM

  11. A gracious answer to a rude comment. If it had been Michael Gambon, he's have kicked his skinny little ginger arse for him.

    Stage actors are athletes. TV actors are nothing by comparison. Any fool can be on TV these days.

    Posted by: Chaz | Dec 10, 2013 3:37:33 PM

  12. It's pretty obvious which speaker is the intelligent one.

    Posted by: johnny | Dec 10, 2013 3:37:51 PM

  13. Damian starred in a movie about a gay man, played the part well. I assumed he was gay, which I still assume. Care less either way, meh.

    Posted by: Jon | Dec 10, 2013 3:39:52 PM

  14. I'd like to see Lewis get up in front of an audience and act non-stop without a cut or a retake and without making one tiny error in three hours. Not one swallowed vowel, not one missed cue, not one fluffed or forgotten word or gesture.

    For three hours, under mass constant observation. You slip once, you die.

    Posted by: Chaz | Dec 10, 2013 3:40:24 PM

  15. I'd like to see Lewis get up in front of an audience and act non-stop without a cut or a retake and without making one tiny error in three hours. Not one swallowed vowel, not one missed cue, not one fluffed or forgotten word or gesture.

    For three hours, under mass constant observation. You slip once, you die.

    Posted by: Chaz | Dec 10, 2013 3:40:24 PM

  16. Not a good idea to do out of the blue distateful remarks about an actor who is way better at his job than you are

    Posted by: jjose712 | Dec 10, 2013 3:48:40 PM

  17. Damian's character is one of the most annoying parts of Homeland. They should've killed his ass off at the end of the first season, like they had planned.

    Posted by: tom | Dec 10, 2013 3:51:16 PM

  18. Damian who? Is this somebody?

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 10, 2013 3:57:06 PM

  19. Before he made his silly, career-damaging comments, Damian Lewis obviously hadn't seen "Vicious," an atrocious recent sitcom in which McKellen plays a mean old queen. If Lewis had seen it, he would have known not to mess with...a mean old queen.

    Posted by: keating | Dec 10, 2013 4:09:05 PM

  20. Here, here!!

    Posted by: tooboot | Dec 10, 2013 4:11:49 PM

  21. One of these actors is a grownup...

    Posted by: Phyl | Dec 10, 2013 4:12:03 PM

  22. Lewis' lips have tasted a lot of cock!

    Posted by: litper | Dec 10, 2013 4:16:24 PM

  23. Fruity? Yeah, we get the fact that you are coming from a place of heterosexual entitlement.

    Posted by: Tyler | Dec 10, 2013 4:18:51 PM

  24. Does "fruity" mean something else in Britain? I didn't think he was referring to voice quality, as McKellen seems to think. I think it was more anti-gay than that.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Dec 10, 2013 4:25:03 PM

  25. I've never heard of damian lewis either, but glad to see Sir Ian McKellen rip him a new one

    Posted by: Reality | Dec 10, 2013 4:26:27 PM

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