I want to dedicate this post to an incredible master of the stage and screen: the unique and charismatic Sir Ian McKellen.
Fitting really to discuss this man, since X-Men: The Last Stand opens in theaters across the country today, and he reprises his role as the magnificent Magneto. It's my favorite character in the whole film series really. Were it not for Magneto's awesome powers and McKellen's commanding performance, I don't think I'd care much for these films.
I first noticed this great actor (like most Americans) back in the late nineties, with the release of the superb Gods And Monsters. The film is acted beautifully, with McKellen doing an amazing job as Frankenstein director James Whale. The acting roles in films for McKellen increased tremendously after this, and he became a household name with the X-Men films and his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He can also be currently seen in The Da Vinci Code too, where many say he nearly steals the picture. Another great, but lesser known McKellen film is the disturbing Apt Pupil, where he plays a former Nazi living in a small town. Ironic really, since Magneto is a Jewish character who survived the Holocaust. Coincidentally, Apt Pupil was directed by Bryan Singer in 1998, director of the future first two X-men films.
The episode Ian hosted of Saturday Night Live a few years ago is among the funniest and best written I have ever seen. If ya can get yourself a copy or find it somehow, please do yourself a favor and view it. He is a natural for skit comedy--with years of experience in the theater of course.
And if ya didn't know it by now, Sir Ian is openly gay. That's right kids. And he is not ashamed, nor does he hide the fact, which is way cool and refreshing in the very closeted world of Hollywood. Perhaps his cause is aided by the fact that he is an elder statesman, and is not expected to be in any love scenes at this point, but I still find it admirable that he is so genuine and honest about himself, while still commanding lots of respect. I believe Sir Ian himself once said that playing one of the X-Men was inspired by the fact that the story has many similarities with being gay and closeted. Interesting indeed!
A veteran of the stage, and now enjoying tremendous success on film, Sir Ian McKellen is one of-- if not the greatest thespian alive.