Sir Ian McKellen on sexual assault: ‘People must be called out’

Sir Ian McKellen

Renowned actor Sir Ian McKellen has praised the new conversation surrounding sexual harassment in Hollywood.

During his Oxford Union Address, the Lord of the Rings actor criticised those accused of sexual misconduct in the recent discussions.

“People taking advantage of their power is absolutely reprehensible, wherever it happens,” he said.

Sir Ian was responding to a question from an audience member who asked him to speak on recent allegations of sexual assault and misconduct that have brought down many prominent Hollywood stars.

Sir Ian McKellen at the Oxford Union (Photo: OxfordUnion/Youtube)

The actor resolutely condemned sexual assault and misconduct whilst acknowledging the difficulties that many survivors face.

He said: “Within the family, workplace, local shop, Parliament, [sexual assault] won’t do.”

“People must be called out…it’s sometimes very difficult for people to do that.”

Since initial allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein early in October, many more allegations of sexual assault and misconduct have been made.

Harvey Weinstein (Getty)

Several of these allegations are years or decades old and have been reportedly prompted by these wider discussions.

Sir Ian continued: “It’s painful for those abused who didn’t talk.”

“I assume nothing but good will come out of these revelations, even though some people get wrongly accused, there’s that side of it as well.”

Sir Ian’s comments have since caused some controversy, with several people accusing Sir Ian of claiming women are partly to blame for sexual harassment.

woman accuses ian mckellan of victim blaming

(Photo: twitter/denisejorudano)

Sir Ian spoke about a time during his early career when a director showed him photographs of women who would write DRR – ‘Director’s Rights Respected” to signify that “if you give me a job, you can have sex with me.”

Addressing these lingering attitudes in Hollywood, Sir Ian said: “people have taken advantage of that and encouraged it, it absolutely will not do.”

Sir Ian also roundly criticised Kevin Spacey in his address, calling his response to allegations of sexual assault: “reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality.”

Spacey was initially accused by Star Trek star Anthony Rapp, who claimed that Spacey had made sexual advances on him when he was 14-years-old.

In response to this allegation, Spacey came out as gay.

Other celebrities have opened up about their experiences of sexual harassment in the wake of the Weinstein revelations.

Sir Ian McKellen’s full address can be found below, with the discussion on sexual harassment beginning at 41:03: