Sir Ian McKellen says ‘it’s not true’ actors will lose roles if they come out as gay

Sir Ian McKellen has claimed it’s not true that actors will lose roles if they are open about their sexuality.

The 78-year-old actor says performers who come out as gay will be better at their job as they are no longer “lying”.

Sir Ian told the Hollywood Reporter – ahead of his new documentary series McKellen: Playing the Part – that coming out aged 49 improved his career.


“I think any gay person who does come out will tell you that that is the best thing that they have ever done in their life because they stop lying,” he said.

“They tell the truth about themselves.

“They become altogether a more attractive person, a more confident person. Everything in your life improves, including, in my case, my acting.

“I was able to use my work to tell the truth about human nature rather than using it to disguise it.

“It is not easy to come out for some people. Everyone’s worried that they’ll lose their jobs.”

Sir Ian McKellen


He continued: “Actors think, oh I won’t get jobs anymore. None of it’s true.

“My career as a film actor took off very shortly after I was honest and came out.

“So that’s my message to other actors who are having a problem: don’t.”

The legendary actor, who has starred as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magento in X-Men, also said his LGBT activism is his greatest legacy.

Asked what he most wants to be remembered for, he revealed: “I do a lot of theatre, and theatre is just for now, it’s just for today.

“Tonight you know, it’s over, it’s finished, it’s not recorded,” he said in the Q&A.

“Now cinema is quite different, film is eternal as you are. But I do notice… that when you look at old films the actors may look young but their acting is rather old-fashioned.

“In other words, there are fashions in acting, and with very few exceptions ones work actually looks worse and worse as the years go by.”

In the 1980s McKellen co-founded Stonewall, the UK’s leading LGBT rights charity, which was created to oppose anti-gay laws.

“I’m very proud of my small contributions to changing the law in this country and changing attitudes, all for the better,” he says.

“And I suppose in the scheme of things that is more important and the more merit and longer lasting than any acting that I have done.”

“But,” McKellen adds, “that is more for other people to judge, isn’t it?”