Sir Ian McKellen: I am proof actors don’t have to stay in the closet to be successful

Sir Ian McKellen has responded to claims that gay actors are more successful when they stay in the closet.

The Lord of the Rings, Hobbit and X-Men star weighed in on a recent debate sparked by Matt Damon

Damon had suggested that Rupert Everett was less able to get successful straight roles after he came out – but later clarified he did not mean actors should stay in the closet.

Actors including Ellen Page and Ben Whishaw have weighed in, with Page saying that heterosexual people are able to talk about their private lives all the time and still do well.

Sir Ian McKellen spoke about the issue at length on the Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast.

He said of his blockbuster success; “It all happened after coming out! I had no idea this silly thing was a weight on my shoulders.”

“That’s my message to anyone in this town who thinks ‘I’ve got to stay in the closet to be successful in films’… I didn’t!”

He continued: “Do you want to be a famous movie star who has love scenes with ladies and in private be an unhappy gay?

“There’s no choice. Forget the career, dear. Go and do something else

“A closet’s a really nasty place to live, you know? It’s dirty, it’s dusty, it’s full of skeletons. You don’t want it. Open that door — fling it wide and be yourself.”