Ian McKellen Biography

Ian Mckellen is a famous English actor. He was knighted by the Queen for his services. This biography offers detailed information about his childhood, life, career, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 25, 1939

Nationality: British

Famous: Gays Actors

Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Gemini

Also Known As: Sir Ian Murray McKellen

Born in: Burnley, Lancashire, England, UK

Famous as: British Actor

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males

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Spouse/Ex-: Brian Taylor (1964–1972), Sean Mathias (1978–1988)

father: Denis Murray McKellen

mother: Margery Lois (née Sutcliffe)

More Facts

education: St Catharine's College, Cambridge, Cambridge University, Bolton School, University of Cambridge

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McKellen is a British citizen, an acclaimed thespian of the British stage, and a respected film actor. He is well-known for his roles as Magneto in the X-Men films and as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. His work spans genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre, to popular fantasy and science fiction. McKellen was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, was knighted for services to the performing arts, and was made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality. He made his sexual orientation known to his fellow actors early in his stage career, but he came out to the general public in a programme on BBC Radio 3. He is the co-founder of Stonewall, a LGBT rights lobby group in the United Kingdom, named after the Stonewall riots. He acted in the first of several X-Men movies as the villain Magneto and appeared in the film adaptation of the best-selling book ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ For his work in the film series, he received the Screen Actors Guild Award for best supporting actor, and an Academy Award nomination.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • His first professional appearance came in 1961 when he appeared as ‘Roper’ in ‘A Man for All Seasons’ at the Nottingham Playhouse. Earlier, an audio recording of the Marlowe Society's Cymbeline had gone on commercial sale.
  • In 1964, he made his first West end appearance in ‘A Scent of Flowers’ in the regional repertory theatres. This play was considered notably successful by the reviewers.
  • In 1965 he was a member of Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company at Old Vic. This membership led to roles at the Chichester Festival, which includes productions from classics to contemporary writing and musicals.
  • From the1970s to the next two decades, he became a well-known figure in British theatre, performing at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. He played leading roles in several popular plays.
  • In 1993, he played a South African tycoon in ‘Six Degrees of Separation’. The same year, his role in the television movie ‘And the Band Played On’, about AIDS, got him an Emmy nomination.
  • The 1998 film ‘Gods and Monsters’, with Mckellen in the lead role, was based on the homosexuality of the film director James Whale. The storyline was close to his heart.
  • He played he super villain of comic books ‘Magneto’ in the film ‘X-Men’ and its sequels ‘X2:X-Men United’, and ‘X-Men: The last Stand’. This was directed by Bryan singer in 2000.
  • Mckellen was cast as ‘Wizard Gandalf’ in Peter Jackson’s three series movie ‘The Lord of the Rings’ from 2001. It was an adaptation of a novel by J Tolkien with the same name.
  • His lifelong ambition was to act in a soap opera. He got the opportunity with Granada Television’s ‘Coronation Street’ in 2005, playing the role of Mel Hutchwright.
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  • In 2009, he appeared in a very popular revival of ‘Waiting for Godot’ at London's Haymarket Theatre. This was directed by Sean Mathias, and he played a role opposite Patrick Stewart.
  • His Britcom ‘Vicious’ is having a rerun in the US and the UK and has been booked for another year.
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Major Works
  • His later films reached an even broader audience. In 2000, he starred in the first of several X-Men movies, as the villain Magneto.
  • He was cast as the wizard Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The best supporting actor award was bestowed upon him by Screen Actors Guild for this role and he also won an Academy Award nomination.
  • In August 2012, McKellen took part in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics. He portrayed the role of Prospero from ‘The Tempest’.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1991, McKellen received the knighthood from the Queen for his services to the performing arts, and he succeeded Stephen Sondheim as Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University.
  • He was honoured with Six Olivier Awards. His part as Max in Sherman's enthralling play ‘Bent’ garnered for him the ‘Actor of the year’ award for this category.
  • In 1996, he received the Golden Globe award for his role in ‘Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny’, as Nicholas II. He was awarded for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He is a gay and his first serious partner was Brian Taylor, a history teacher from Bolton. They lived in London and their relationship started in 1964 and lasted eight years.
  • In 1978, he met his second partner, Sean Mathias, at the Edinburgh festival. This turbulent relationship lasted for ten years, when they decided to separate due to the conflict in their acting careers.
  • McKellen is Patron of English Touring Theatre and also President and Patron of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, an association of amateur theatre organisations throughout the UK.
  • This British actor is a Cricket fan since childhood, playing for the second eleven in his youth. In 2011, he umpired a charity match in New Zealand.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

  (Drama, Fantasy, Adventure)

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  (Drama, Fantasy, Adventure)

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

  (Adventure, Action, Drama, Fantasy)

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

  (Thriller, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Action)

5. The Promise (1969)


6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

  (Fantasy, Family, Adventure)

7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

  (Fantasy, Adventure)

8. Gods and Monsters (1998)

  (Biography, Drama)


Golden Globe Awards
1997 Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Rasputin (1996)

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How To Cite

Article Title
- Ian McKellen Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- July 26, 2017
Ian McKellen

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