Ioreth’s Kinsman writes: I thought you might be interested in “In Conversation with Ian McKellen”, which I went to see in Sydney at the Theatre Royale tonight. It went for about 2 hours and was basically a chat with Sir Ian and an interviewer, who was never actually introduced but knows him well and has worked with him in the past.

The scene was very intimate, even for a large space. There were two chairs very close to the edge of the stage and a table between for water. The rest of the stage (which is currently set up for Dances with Death which Sir Ian is currently playing in) was curtained off. I was lucky enough to be four rows from the front, if a bit far to one side.

For the most part, it was a very casual discussion about Sir Ian’s life: how he got interested in acting as a youth by spending time backstage in his home town, how his grandfather was a role model for him in terms of oration and presentation (his grandpa was a preacher), and a lot about his career, both recent and past. He talked openly about coming out of the closet (bravo!) and the how others felt that he gave better performances once he could be more honest with himself and those around him. He gave many useful anecdotes to any budding actors in the audience about how to connect to a character and get the “DNA” right, by which he meant that by getting one piece of it right (say, the voice, or the walk) often the rest would come a lot easier because, like DNA, it was all there just waiting to fit together.

From a LOTR perspective, he talked a bit about how he and the various makeup people spent three days getting the look of Gandalf just right – all he had to do was sit there while others made the decisions. He joked about Tolkien’s actual description of Tolkien with eyebrows jutting out beyond the brim of his hat, and how unlikely that would have been for film. He also thought that Gandalf the Grey was much more interesting than Gandalf the White (I have to agree), and came very close but never actually showed us his tattoo of the Elvish number 9 (which is on his right arm near the shoulder), when requested by someone in the audience during Q&A time.