11 July 2010
Sir Ian McKellen is a renowned British actor. Best known in New Zealand for his role as Gandalf in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings, Sir Ian McKellen is currently touring the country as he plays Estragon in Samuel Becket’s Waiting For Godot. Sir Ian’s acting career is a long and impressive list of both film and stage roles including Hamlet, Dr Faustus, Romeo, Captain Hook, and Richard III.
Born in Lancashire, England in 1939, Ian’s parents encouraged his passion for performing and entertaining. His mother passed away when he was only 12 years old, unable to see her son pursue that passion as a career. Ian landed his first professional role in 1961 as Roper in A Man For All Seasons at the Nottingham Playhouse. Four years later he made his first West End appearance and throughout the 70s and 80s Ian McKellen became well known throughout British theatre.
It was the 1990s before Ian caught the attention of Hollywood. He had starred in a number of smaller productions previously, but it was not until he was cast as a supporting role in Six Degrees Of Separation that he began to be recognised more widely. In 1995 he co-wrote co-produced and starred in a unique take on Shakespeare’s Richard III. Sir Ian later played the villain Magneto in the X-Men Trilogy and it was during production of the first instalment that he was cast as Gandalf.
Throughout this illustrious career he has received numerous awards and recognitions from a host of different sources. In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and was later knighted in the 1991 New Year Honours for his outstanding work and contributions to theatre.