Best known today as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies and Magneto in the X-Men series, Sir Ian McKellen is a classically trained theater actor who’s done his fair share of historical costume dramas over the years. He won a Tony in 1981 for Best Actor in Amadeus, and Sir Ian has won six prestigious Olivier Awards (the U.K.’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony) between 1977 and 2006 for acting. He’s never been shy in his roles or with fellow actors about his sexual orientation, but it wasn’t until 1988 that he came out as gay publicly, specifically to protest homophobic legislation under consideration at the time. Since then, Ian McKellen has been an active supporter of LGBTQ rights and even co-created Stonewall UK, which lobbies for LGBTQ legal and social equality. And he’s used his increasing fame over the years to draw attention to this matter, as well as for arts and education charities that he’s passionate about. Sir Ian is a fine human being and a fabulous actor, so let’s celebrate all his historical costume movie and TV roles this Monday!
David Copperfield in David Copperfield (1966)
King Edward in Edward II (1970)
D.H. Lawrence in Priest of Love (1981)
Paul Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)
Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow (1994)
Amos Starkadder in Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
Richard III in Richard III (1995)
Will Gates in Restoration (1995)
Tsar Nicholas II in Rasputin (1996)
James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998)
Creakle in David Copperfield (1999)
King Lear in King Lear (2008)
Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes (2015)
What’s your favorite historical costume movie/TV role of Ian McKellen’s?