Sir Ian McKellen has been doing Pilates classes online during lockdown.
The 82-year-old actor was encouraged to start the light exercise classes in order to stay active during lockdown, and said he’s trying to stick with his workout regime because he doesn’t want to become “decrepit”.
He said: “On and off I’ve been aware that exercise is a good idea and I’ve done various disciplines. I’ve been doing Pilates online through lockdown. It just keeps me active. The trouble with a lot of people my age is that they are decrepit not simply because they are getting older but because they are not doing enough of what they always did do – walk, run, exercise. It’s all too easy to think, ‘Well, I’ll have a little sleep now. It’s 11 o’clock in the morning.’ ”
And now that people are beginning to come out of lockdown, Ian is finding himself taking on new forms of exercise, especially as he prepares to step into the “athletic” role of Hamlet in the eponymous Shakespeare play.
He added: “Of course Hamlet is quite athletic, a fencer and rather good at it. So I am doing a few lunges.”
Ian is returning to the famous role after an initial outing in 1971, and has said he never thought he would take on the part again.
He said: “It had never crossed my mind to play Hamlet again. I hadn’t much enjoyed doing it before. Nor had many people who saw it enjoyed it, as far as I can make out. I got some sniffy reviews. I thought it was enough to look romantic and tousle my hair and rattle the speeches off and I’d get by. I don’t think I could believe what was going on. Which I’ve attended to this time.”
And following the COVID-19 pandemic, Ian is keen to see more theatres re-open for productions, as he believes there’s “nothing to match” the feel of taking part in a play, especially for “young actors”.
Speaking to The Sunday Times newspaper’s Culture magazine, he said: “Certainly as a training ground for young actors there’s nothing to match it. The young actors I talk to about it almost cry because that’s what they most want but their agent is telling them they’ve got to do TV because that’s where the money and fame is. Well, they want to learn how to act, and the best way to do that is by acting.”