JBG was part of the studio audience for ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ with our very own Ian McKellen, here is his report!
“I went, it was wonderful, but I still don’t know when it will air. I DO know it was the last class of the year, but I don’t know if that means it will be the last show of the season. I think I’ll be able to find out soon and get back to you.
It was quite long, and it will be televised of course, but here some short general impressions and some stuff that probably won’t be aired. This is all from memory, so I might have some details wrong. Also, I’m not a reporter and my email writer does not have spellcheck, so this is probably all utter crap. Also, you may not find it relevant to your site (there certainly isn’t anything particularly earth-shattering here, to say the least). I will not be offended IN THE LEAST if you don’t want to print it. (But if you do, please don’t use my name or even my initials…a friend at Bravo got me in and I don’t want to get her in trouble some how.) Anyway, here it is:
The focus was very much on his stage career and Shakespeare in particular. Due to prodding by the host, there was a fair bit of name dropping of all the great British actors and stage directors that he has worked with.
There was also good deal of juicy details about his childhood…especially about how he got into acting. He attended plays of all levels–amateur to professional–quite regularly and at a young age, and also took parts in plays both in school and in amateur theaters. His first role? An American pilgrim child! He then related his years at Cambridge and subsequent work in repertory theater, where he would do up to twenty plays a year with some of the finest actors in the country. I always appreciated that Sir Ian acted well, but I never realized how MUCH he acted (and you really got the feeling that the two go hand in hand).
He also mentioned that he regrets getting rid of his Lancaster accent. He said that if he were learning to act now, he would keep it.
Then he had some funny things to say about getting knighted. This might be an old story, but I guess that the Queen, after knighting him, asked him, “Does anyone even GO to the theater any more?” At the dinner at Buckingham Palace, Ian and Judi Dench (or it may have been Maggie Smith) snuck around the bandstand and sat on the royal thrones!
There was also a great deal about coming out of the closet and what it meant to him as an actor (essentially, all good). And he had some deep things to say about how an actor needs to communicate with the audience. This is why he hates microphones on stage, and why he talked to the camera during his soliloquys in the Richard III film. There was a great deal of talk about Richard III, both the film and stage versions.
There wasn’t too much about LOTR (when the host asked him what we should expect in the next films, Sir Ian suggested that if you want to know more, you can read the books…which Sir Ian has NOT done himself, shame on him), but he did emphasize that it was an profound experience to be involved and that it was a thoroughly fulfilling endeavor…this is especially saying a lot considering the audience was much more interested in his stage work. It’s hard to describe here, but you definitely got the feeling that working on LOTR was sincerely wonderful for him…and he really can’t believe his luck about getting involved.
He specifically had good things to say about Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Ian Holm. I guess Ian Holm does every take differently, which Ian McKellen thought was impressive and daring, but definitely wasn’t his style. He mentioned slowly appreciating the passion that Tolkien’s fans have for the work (of course, the internet was mentioned), and feeling absolutely thrilled and a bit scared about the responsibility of playing Gandalf.
And for the X-Man fans, he essentially has the attitude that Magneto is the GOOD guy…likening the character’s anti-assimilation stance to the gay rights movement! This was only SLIGHTLY tongue-in-cheek, I assure you. He also made a playful dig at Spider-Man, saying the X-Men have REAL problems, not just dealing with sticky goo on their hands (or something like that).”