Ian McKellen


Sir Ian Murray McKellen CH CBE (born May 25, 1939) is an English actor whose career spans six decades. A recipient of every major theatrical award in the UK, he is regarded as a British cultural icon. He has performed in genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. Over his career he has received numerous awards including seven Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He has also received nominations for two Academy Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and four BAFTAs.

Early film roles include Waris Hussein’s A Touch of Love (1969), with Sandy Dennis; Clive Donner’s A Touch of Love (1969), with David Hemmings, Michael York, Prunella Ransome, Colin Blakely, Peter Vaughan, Alan Dobie, and Julian Glover; Priest of Love (1981), with Janet Suzman, Ava Gardner, Penelope Keith, Jorge Rivero, John Gielgud, Maurizio Merli, James Faulkner, Massimo Ranieri, and Graham Faulkner; Michael Mann’s The Keep (1983), with Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne, Jürgen Prochnow, Alberta Watson, and Robert Prosky; Fred Schepisi’s Plenty (1985), with Meryl Streep, Charles Dance, Tracey Ullman, Gielgud, Sting, and Sam Neill; and Michael Canton-Jones’s Scandal (1989), with John Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Bridget Fonda, Britt Ekland, Roland Gift, and Jeroen Krabbé.

Films in the 1990s include Six Degrees of Separation (1993), with Stockard Channing, Will Smith, Donald Sutherland, Mary Beth Hurt, and Bruce Davison; The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), with Suzy Amis, Bo Hopkins, David Chung, Heather Graham, Carrie Snodgress, and Melissa Leo; Russell Mulcahy’s The Shadow (1994), with Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Jonathan Winters, Peter Boyle, and Tim Curry; James L. Brooks’s I’ll Do Anything (1994), with Nick Nolte, Albert Brooks, Julie Kavner, Joely Richardson, Ullman, and Whittni Wright; Jack & Sarah (1995), with Richard E. Grant, Samantha Mathis, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Cherie Lunghi.

McKellen received and Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role as legendary filmmaker James Whale in Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters (1998), with Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich and David Dukes. Other films in the 1990s include Michael Hoffman’s Restoration (1995), with Robert Downey Jr., Neill, Meg Ryan, David Thewlis, Polly Walker, and Hugh Grant; Richard Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), with Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Downey Jr., Kristin Scott Thomas, Nigel Hawthorne, Maggie Smith, John Wood, Tim McInnerny, and Dominic West; Bent (1997), with Lothaire Bluteau, Clive Owen, and Mick Jagger; Beeban Kidron’s Swept from the Sea (1998), with Vincent Perez, Rachel Weisz, Joss Ackland, and Kathy Bates; and Apt Pupil (1998), with Brad Renfro, Elias Koteas, and David Schwimmer.

One of his best known roles is antagonist Magneto in the X-Men films (2000-2014), collectively featuring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Anna Paquin, Bruce Davison, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Kelsey Grammer, Vinnie Jones, Elliot Page, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Peter Dinklage.

He’s also best known for his role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), collectively with Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Sean Bean, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, and Ian Holm; and The Hobbit trilogy (2012-2014), collectively with Martin Freeman,
Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Stephen Fry, Blanchett, Holm, Lee, Weaving, Wood, Bloom, and Serkis. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

Other notable films include Asylum (2005), with Natasha Richardson, Marton Csokas, Hugh Bonneville, Sean Harris, Ackland, Wanda Ventham, Maria Aitken, and Judy Parfitt; Neverwas (2005), with Aaron Eckhart, Brittany Murphy, Nolte, William Hurt, and Jessica Lange; Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code (2006), with Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Jean Reno, and Paul Bettany; Mr. Holmes (2015), with Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Milo Parker; Beauty and the Beast (2017), with Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Emma Thompson; All Is True (2018), with Kenneth Branagh (who also directed) and Dench; The Good Liar (2019), with Helen Mirren; and Tom Hooper’s Cats (2019), with James Corden, Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Hayward.

McKellen has also done voice work in the animated films The Magic Roundabout (2005), with Tom Baker, Broadbent, Lee Evans, Joanna Lumley, Kylie Minogue, Bill Nighy, Robbie Williams, and Ray Winstone; Flushed Away (2006), with Jackman, Kate Winslet, Serkis, Nighy, Shane Richie and Reno; and Animal Crackers (2017), with John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, Gilbert Gottfried, Sylvester Stallone, Raven-Symoné, and Patrick Warburton. He also narrated Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust (2007), with Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro; and voiced in the live action film The Golden Compass (2007), with Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, and Eva Green.

TV movie and miniseries include The Scarlett Pimpernel (1982), with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour; Stephen Frears’s Walter (1982), with Barbara Jefford, Tony Melody, David Ryall, Keith Allen, Paula Tilbrook, and Broadbent; Windmills of the Gods (1988), with Jaclyn Smith and Robert Wagner; And the Band Played On (1993), with Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Glenne Headly, Richard Mauser, Saul Rubinek, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, and Richard Gere; John Schlesinger’s Cold Comfort Farm (1995), with Eileen Atkins, Kate Beckinsale, Sheila Burrell, Fry, Freddie Jones, Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, and Rufus Sewell; Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny (1996), with Alan Rickman, Greta Scacchi, and David Warner; and David Copperfield (1999), with Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán McMenamin, Smith, Pauline Quirke, Alun Armstrong, Trevor Eve, Bob Hoskins, Zoë Wanamaker, Emilia Fox, Oliver Ford Davies, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Imelda Staunton, Ian McNeice, Michael Elphick, and Dawn French.

Later TV movies and miniseries include King Lear (2008), with Romola Garai, Frances Barber, Jonathan Hyde, and Sylvester McCoy; The Prisoner (2009), with Jim Caviezel, Hayley Atwell, Ruth Wilson, Lennie James, Rachael Blake, and Jamie Campbell Bower; and The Dresser (2015), with Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson, Vanessa Kirby, Sarah Lancashire, and Edward Fox. He also starred in the sitcom Vicious (2013-2016), with Derek Jacobi, Frances de la Tour, Iwan Rheon, Marcia Warren, and Philip Voss.

McKellen was knighted in the 1991 New Year Honours for services to the performing arts, and made a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to equality in the 2008 New Year Honours. He is gay and has been open about his sexuality since 1988, and continues to champion LGBT social movements worldwide. He was awarded Freedom of the City of London in October 2014.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • The Trial and Torture of Sir John Rampayne (1965) – directed by Peter Duguid – TV movie
  • Sunday Out of Season (1965) – directed by John Nelson-Burton – TV movie
  • Hay Fever (1968) – directed by John Gorrie – TV movie
  • The Promise (1969) – directed by Michael Hayes
  • Alfred the Great (1969) – directed by Clive Donner
  • A Touch of Love (1969) – directed by Waris Hussein
  • The Tragedy of King Richard II (1970) – directed by Richard Cottrell & Toby Robertson – TV movie
  • Edward II (1970) – directed by Richard Marquand & Toby Robertson – TV movie
  • Hamlet (1970) – directed by David Giles – TV movie
  • Ross (1970) – directed by Cedric Messina – TV movie
  • Hedda Gabler (1972) – directed by Waris Hussein
  • The Recruiting Officer (1973) – directed by David Giles – TV movie
  • Graceless Go I (1974) – directed by Patrick Dromgoole – TV movie
  • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1979) – directed by Roger Bamford & Trevor Nunn – TV movie
  • A Performance of Macbeth (1979) – directed by Philip Casson & Trevor Nunn – TV movie
  • The Vanishing Army (1980) – directed by Richard Loncraine – TV movie
  • 1981 Priest of Love (1981) – directed by Christopher Miles
  • Walter (1982) – directed by Stephen Frears – TV movie
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) – directed by Clive Donner – TV movie
  • Walter & June (1983) – directed by Stephen Frears – TV movie
  • The Keep (1983) – directed by Michael Mann
  • Plenty (1985) – directed by Fred Schepisi
  • Zina Arthur (1985) – directed by Ken McMullen
  • Windmills of the Gods (1988) – directed by Lee Philips – miniseries
  • Scandal (1989) – directed by Michael Caton-Jones
  • Countdown to War (1989) – directed by Patrick Lau – TV movie
  • Othello (1990) – directed by Anthony Garrick & Trevor Nunn – TV movie
  • Last Action Hero (1993) – directed by John McTiernan – cameo
  • The Ballad of Little Jo (1993) – directed by Maggie Greenwald
  • And the Band Played On (1993) – directed by Roger Spottiswoode – TV movie
  • Tales of the City (1993) – directed by Alastair Reid – miniseries
  • Six Degrees of Separation (1993) – directed by Fred Schepisi
  • I’ll Do Anything John (1994) – directed by James L. Brooks
  • The Shadow (1994) – directed by Russell Mulcahy
  • To Die For Quilt (1994) – directed by Peter Litten – voice cameo
  • Cold Comfort Farm (1995) – directed by John Schlesinger – TV movie
  • Jack & Sarah (1995) – directed by Tim Sullivan
  • Restoration (1995) – directed by Michael Hoffman
  • Richard III (1995) – directed by Richard Loncraine – also writer, executive producer
  • Rasputin (1996) – directed by Uli Edel – TV movie
  • Bent (1997) – directed by Sean Mathias
  • Swept from the Sea (1998) – directed by Beeban Kidron
  • Apt Pupil (1998) – directed by Bryan Singer
  • Gods and Monsters (1998) – directed by Bill Condon
  • The Book That Wrote Itself (1999) – directed by Liam O Mochain – cameo
  • David Copperfield (1999) – directed by Simon Curtis – miniseries
  • Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (2000) – directed by Keith Melton – short
  • X-Men (2000)* – directed by Bryan Singer
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)* – directed by Peter Jackson
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)* – directed by Peter Jackson
  • X2: X-Men United (2003)* – directed by Bryan Singer
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)* – directed by Peter Jackson
  • Emile (2004) – directed by Carl Bessai
  • Churchill (2004) – directed by Lucy Carter – documentary miniseries
  • Pavarotti: The Last Tenor (2004) – directed by Francis Hanly – narrator – TV documentary
  • Asylum (2005) – David Mackenzie
  • Neverwas (2005) – directed by Joshua Michael Stern
  • Eighteen (2005) – Richard Bell – voice cameo
  • The Magic Roundabout (2005) – directed by Dave Borthwick, Jean Duval, & Frank Passingham
  • The Da Vinci Code (2006) – directed by Ron Howard
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)* – directed by Brett Ratner
  • Flushed Away (2006) – directed David Bowers & Sam Fell
  • Displaced (2006) – directed by Martin Holland
  • For the Love of God (2007) – directed by Joe Tucker – short
  • Stardust (2007)* – directed by Matthew Vaughn
  • The Golden Compass (2007) – directed by Chris Weitz
  • King Lear (2008) – directed by Trevor Nunn – TV movie
  • The Academy (2009) – directed by Peter Hinton – short
  • The Prisoner (2009) – directed by Nick Hurran – miniseries
  • The Academy Part 2: First Impressions (2009) – directed by Peter Hinton – short
  • Small-Time Revolutionary (2010) – directed by Miikka Leskinen – short
  • A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation (2010) – directed by Stefan Leuchtenberg & Martin Wallner – short
  • E’gad, Zombies! (2010) – directed by Matthew Butler-Hart – short
  • Lady Grey London (2011) – directed by John Cameron Mitchell – short
  • Claude et Claudette (2011) – directed by Mathew Butler-Hart – short
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) – directed by Peter Jackson
  • The Egg Trick (2013) – directed by Stephen Kroto – short
  • The Wolverine (2013) – directed by James Mangold – uncredited cameo
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot (2013) – directed by Peter Davison – TV short
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) – directed by Peter Jackson
  • Miss in Her Teens (2014) – directed by Matthew Butler-Hart
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)* – directed by Bryan Singer
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) – directed by Peter Jackson
  • Mr. Holmes (2015) – directed by Bill Condon
  • The Dresser (2015) – directed by Richard Eyre – TV movie
  • The Roof (2016) – directed by Natalie Abrahami – short
  • National Theatre Live: No Man’s Land (2016) – directed by Sean Mathias & Robin Lough – TV Movie
  • Look Back in Anger (2016) – directed by Richard Wilson
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017) – directed by Bill Condon
  • Animal Crackers (2017) – directed by Scott Christian Sava, Tony Bancroft, & Jaime Maestro
  • Edmund the Magnificent (2017) – directed by Ben Ockrent – short
  • National Theatre Live: King Lear (2018) – directed by Jonathan Munby & Ross MacGibbon – filmed play
  • All Is True (2018) – directed by Kenneth Branagh
  • The Good Liar (2019) – directed by Bill Condon
  • Darrylgorn (2019) – directed by Stephen Colbert – short
  • Cats (2019) – directed by Tom Hooper
  • Herbie (2020) – directed by Paolo Donati – short
  • Infinitum: Subject Unknown (2021) – directed by Matthew Butler-Hart