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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Thursday's Connector of the Day: Ian McKellen

January 27th, 2010
12:48 PM ET

Sir Ian McKellen's career has spanned playing characters as diverse as Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to comic book villain, Magneto in "X-Men".

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/27/ian.blog.jpg caption ="Sir Ian McKellen."]

The English-born actor's portfolio includes both stage and screen - he was given a Tony award and two Academy Award nominations.

McKellen is also an openly gay actor and has been a strident activist for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender rights.

He is currently performing in London in the stage production of "Waiting for Godot" until April 2010.

Here's your chance to ask him a question.

Do you want to know what it was like being part of "X-Men" or "Lord of the Rings"? Does he have a favorite movie he was in? Maybe you want to know what it's like being gay in Hollywood.

Please post your questions below.

Posted by
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Pedro Silva


    I would like to know how does one research, prepare and get into character to play fictional, fantastic, supernatural roles and still make it believable?
    How does one evaluate one´s performance and abide to existing fan´s expectations?


    January 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  2. Jason

    I am excited to hear about the two part movie series for The Hobbit, who else joins the cast or makes a reappearance from lord of the rings, and what was your favorite Lord of the rings movie to be in

    January 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  3. Ben

    Hi Ian – I enjoyed the matinee of Waiting for Godot last Sunday very much. Well done! My partner and I moved to London from Los Angeles this summer and we would like to get involved in supporting LGBT charities in the UK. Can you recommend any here that we should volunteer for or donate to?

    January 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  4. Jeremy Klein

    Has Roland Emmerich come at you to play Harry Seldon in the movie version of Foundation that he's doing?

    January 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  5. Matthew

    Being an advocate for LGBT rights, have you found doing so to hurt your career in any way?

    January 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  6. Kathy Li

    Hi Ian!
    The cast and crew from Lord of the Rings seemed like such a close-knit family. Do you guys still talk to each other?

    January 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  7. Max Westgate

    What is the benefit of keeping Shakespearian acting alive in modern culture, apart from the preservation of traditional culture? It is not so practiced a technique as it once was, and it is difficult to find good, determined actors. What makes it more pleasurable and entertaining than just mainstream cinematic, or broadway acting?

    January 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  8. Brett Griffiths

    I only wanted to say thank you for your fine work.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  9. Jenifer

    Hi Sir Ian- Your portrayal of Gandalf was so very pitch-perfect, just want to "thank you" for making my favorite literary character come completely alive...every time I watch LOTR, I am awed..!

    January 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  10. MC Callaway

    Being the parent of a child who grew up with the Harry Potter series, we have always been curious about something. We always believed–especially after Richard Harris' passing–that you would have been the best choice for the role of Dumbledore. We have always wondered if you were offered that role, and, if so, why you turned it down.

    Also, your Gandolf could not have been done better by anyone. It is one of our "anniversary" movies, and we watch it every year on Memorial Day. Thank you for providing all of us with such an outstanding performance.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  11. Gerry

    I want you to know that the "White Shores" speech was very helpful to me at a very difficult time in my life. It should have taken the Oscar, if Gollum didn't, but please accept my thanks for a masterful performance, both in the films, and in the interviews in the
    Appedices. You do more good than you know.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  12. ian tully-barr

    Hello. I saw you in Acting Shakespeare in Toronto at the Royal Alex in the 1980's. I thought you were brilliant-do you have any plans to remount/update this one man show?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  13. Carol

    I would like to send you a thank you for being a truthful person. This gives me a Mother of two gay sons a positive person for them to look towards.
    During their now older teen years they are finding( as am I) a few more challenges to face. As a Mom I worry yet I can't protect them from the world.
    As I am certain your Mother loved you I send my Blessings to her and my heartfelt Thanks to you

    January 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  14. B2

    Who would win in a fight, Magneto or Gandalf?

    January 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  15. Cat MacLeod

    Cat MacLeod, El Sobrante CA

    What character or characters have you played where you wished you could BE that character? What about those characters appealed to you?

    January 27, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  16. Pete

    Hey Ian,

    Can you get me a role in one of your shows 🙂 email me if you can. haha.

    January 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  17. RW46

    milk or lemmon?

    January 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  18. Veronica

    So, are you one of those people who still thinking the moon is made of Swiss cheese??

    January 27, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  19. Gabriela

    What is the taste of success, what is the taste of failure on stage? Is it different on screen? What is the role you would call "peak of your career" or the role you would like to be remembered for?

    January 27, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  20. Michael

    You are one of the few elder Gay role-models and sex-symbols in modern popular culture, and you always seem to garner the spotlight both with your own generation and with many younger Gay men. It seems like the different generations do not necessarily interact very freely and supportively in modern Gay culture. Do you have any suggestions for ways the community could fix this? It would be so great to have elders to go to for advice and support and also bridge the gap between age groups within our culture. Young Gay men need to interact more with those who have wisdom.

    January 28, 2010 at 12:09 am | Reply
  21. David from New Zealand

    Sir Ian, throughout your career you have played many different characters on stage and in film. So I was wondering if there was a particular character or type of character that you haven't yet played but one that you would really love to do?

    And a second question.

    What content do you think would characterise a great Gay novel or film? Are coming out stories now too clichéd, or are they still integral to the identity of Gay men and women and would therefore have to form a part of any great Gay story?

    January 28, 2010 at 12:32 am | Reply
  22. Silvia from San Diego

    Years ago I had the extreme pleasure of seeing your performance in Amadeus as Salieri (with Tim Curry as Mozart). I was amazed how you were able to distort your expression to appear older, etc. I was so disappointed that you (and Mr. Curry) were not chosen to play in the film version. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your performance. Thank you.

    January 28, 2010 at 12:58 am | Reply
  23. Dustin G. Basham

    Hey, I just wanted to say you were my inspiration to get on stage...twice...lol. It was the most fun I have ever had. My fav movie..."Gods and Monsters." Thanks for being you.
    Dustin in Kentucky

    January 28, 2010 at 1:35 am | Reply
  24. Alejandra Kluger

    Hi Sir Ian,
    I have been lucky enough to see you twice on the NY stage: as Richard the Third (spellbinding!), and years before that in Wild Honey, when I was just a school girl. On that particular night you actually threw up on stage, .. and then kept going as if nothing had happened. To this day, I consider that night as one of the most extraordinary theatrical experiences I have ever had, and I am still perplexed when I think about it. WHAT the heck happened to you that night? I greatly admire your work and I love to watch you in films and television. Loved you in Da Vinci Code; Huge laughs on EXTRAS!

    January 28, 2010 at 3:01 am | Reply
  25. Ashley Secord

    hello from frostbitten Michigan!
    Two part question here,
    Was the change in cast for Waiting for Godot a group choice, director's fancy or just interfering with the other actors' schedules?
    Also, I understand that Nathan Lane was doing Waiting for Godot on Broadway but I was wondering if you are planning on making any sort of American tour?
    It would be fantastic to see you on stage, something I've wanted to do for years now. Anyways, thank you, and much luck in all your endeavors.

    January 28, 2010 at 3:21 am | Reply
  26. Gary Oster

    What experiences have most affected your acting career?

    January 28, 2010 at 3:48 am | Reply
  27. Magnus

    Greetings sir Ian. I have a question about stage fright. Do you have it,and if so,what do you do to overcome it? God bless you sir.

    January 28, 2010 at 4:29 am | Reply
  28. Keira

    My question is: If you could have one superpower, which one would it be and how would you use it?

    January 28, 2010 at 5:26 am | Reply
  29. Julie Graham

    Dear Sir Ian,
    I was wondering if you could or would comment on today's announcement that The Hobbit movie has again been delayed by another year, with production not beginning till 2012 (according to Variety). Considering your very busy schedule, do you still have hopes/plans on being involved in the production? I sure hope so. You ARE Gandalf thru and thru and I really don't want anyone else playing that role. Also, could you please, please, please bring a production/your talents to San Francisco, CA? I would love to see you live of stage.

    January 28, 2010 at 6:15 am | Reply
  30. Helen Bulluck

    Dear Sir ian, I had the pleasure of seeing youon stage in Hamlet and in Bent. This may seem a very superficial question but is there a role that you covet? Either one you wish you could or could have played.
    In my humble opinion you are one of the greatest actors ever to have graced the boards or the silver screen. Thank you.

    January 28, 2010 at 6:38 am | Reply
  31. luke

    Dear Sir Ian,

    I was wondering what you believe is the most pleasant and unpleasant about a typical (If you believe that there is such a phenomenon) english personality structure.

    Love and regards luke.

    January 28, 2010 at 7:44 am | Reply
  32. Emmanuel Obika

    I so much appreciate your good work

    January 28, 2010 at 7:53 am | Reply
  33. Sylvia

    Sir Ian, I saw that you will play in theatre only till April 2010.
    But there is no time to come to London for me till then.
    When we will see you again? So I can plan my trip to London :-).
    It would be wonderfull to see you working on stage. And on the other side I'd like to support you in all gay-movements. Maybe you can let me know what I can do here from germany. Or which arrangements I can come to see.You do a great job.
    Thank you Sylvia from Munich

    January 28, 2010 at 8:01 am | Reply
  34. Ann Henry

    I am a University professor. Or rather I was. One of my students gave an oral presentation entitled GAY MARRIAGE IS REPULSIVE. I gave her a D because of logical fallacies, including her assertion that Gay Marriage would reduce the world birthrate. I was taken to task, as the little creature in question comes from a very important and influential family, and took the option of early retirement. What is the best way an educator can say that certain opinions are unacceptable in her classroom? I ask because my husband and I are apparently going to go on a short term project in a very homophobic country.

    January 28, 2010 at 9:35 am | Reply
  35. Olalekan Oladele Eniola

    Sir Ian,please who was the brain behind The Lord of the Rings...That person is a genius... And you were very spectacular in that movie...Any latest work from you soon?

    January 28, 2010 at 9:50 am | Reply
  36. Jacobs

    Dear sir, pls is mr frado and friends dwarf?

    January 28, 2010 at 9:50 am | Reply
  37. victor

    You are such a great actor.
    My little son love u, well all love in
    Nigeria. God bless u.

    January 28, 2010 at 9:51 am | Reply
  38. Oluwaseun Victor 'Osazie'

    Hi. Would you mind translating some of you project to a Nigerian language(YORUBA).It will be interesting. I've seen some of your work and they were so good.

    January 28, 2010 at 9:52 am | Reply
  39. Rameez

    hi,sir any suggestion or advice for the youngsters??

    January 28, 2010 at 9:55 am | Reply
  40. benson elvis

    do you have any desire to put up a play with d qualities of Gandalf and Magnito?

    January 28, 2010 at 10:24 am | Reply
  41. Henry

    What are your views concerning Lgbt.
    Secondly,what experiences has affected your career the most.wish u luck in all ur endeavours

    January 28, 2010 at 10:29 am | Reply
  42. Paul Amoah

    Sir Ian,
    how do you feel when you win an award?

    When you are died and gone, what do you what us to remember you with?

    If God gives you one-more-chance, what will you do with your life and what will you not do?

    Thank you PAUL AMOAH from Ghana.

    January 28, 2010 at 10:33 am | Reply
  43. Chris Edward

    They say England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
    How well received is you hollywood work at home in the UK?

    January 28, 2010 at 10:33 am | Reply
  44. Susanne Hartkop

    Hello there,
    I was just watching the making of L of R, Return of the King, last night (we are going to see the live orchestra version + movie at the KKL in Luzern on Feb 7th!) so I was brushing up on my behind-the-scenes information. You mentioned that you were able to take (steal) a few souvenirs out of Bag End.....what goodies did you find and what is your most meaningful memory/souvenir from L of R. I loved your performance. Everyone should have a wizard come bang at the door occasionally. If you are ever in Switzerland...Knirigasse 24b, Stans. Great cheeeeeese.......Heh, heh. Blessings, Susanne

    January 28, 2010 at 10:41 am | Reply
  45. Audra

    Dear Sir Ian,

    Can you pin-point a moment in your life that you feel has meant the most to you? Are there too many to choose from, or do they all carry the same weight?

    Much love, kisses and respect,

    January 28, 2010 at 10:50 am | Reply
  46. Victor femi

    How do u come about th lord of the ring?

    January 28, 2010 at 11:04 am | Reply
  47. Heather Lochtie

    Dear Sir Ian,
    I'm a massive admirer and have respected all of your character choices tremendously – but have you ever declined a role you later wish you'd accepted? Or vice versa?

    Warm regards,
    Heather Lochtie

    January 28, 2010 at 11:07 am | Reply
  48. Omeiza ismo

    Hello,ian i nid 2 knw ur 2ru biography.

    January 28, 2010 at 11:29 am | Reply
  49. Agi

    what was your most challenging moment on shooting the lord of the rings.

    January 28, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply
  50. Emeka nwatu

    Hello sir,ur works are awsome,advice me on how 2 become an actor,i luv acting.4rm Nigeria

    January 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  51. Anil varma

    I jus wanted to know the why this movie got honoury OSCOR award. . . .?

    January 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  52. Mr kalabar

    Am talented actor mr len,wil you like to promote me.I wil be very grateful only if u do that to me and my country.

    January 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  53. Jane

    Hi Sir Ian,
    Just needed to know if ur sexuality determines d scripts u accept?and i really loved gandolf with his long white beard.

    January 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  54. Jafaru yakubu

    Hi mr Gandalf, how did u and ur crew got all the characters/people that acted in Lord of the Rings.

    January 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  55. Emeka

    Sir,I'd like to know if you get haunted by the scary roles in these movies,in your dreams. Cos i was told some actors usually visit Psychologists to deal with this issue when they feature in scary movies,cos they are usually haunted by their roles especially in the dream

    January 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  56. Fabregas

    Yeah,his Lord of the Rings was masterclass.just want 2 ask him how he always wantd 2 destroy charles Xavier so much

    January 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  57. Bello Omotosho

    Does retirement rings a bell to you in the nearest future?

    January 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  58. Juan Carlos

    Sir Ian,

    You display great powers as an actor, which I admire.

    They are just as great as your SUPERpower to detect and engage in incredibly successful franchises (X-men, Lord of the Rings). Your compatriot Patrick Stewart seems to possess the same superpower as well.

    Best regards,

    January 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  59. Chimezie pascal

    Single executive leader: dis is d proces were principle advocates for any organisation. It provides central coordination for d activities of d group

    January 28, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  60. Harry

    Is it a bad move to try and move straight to film and wonders if everyone should act on the stage professionally first?

    January 28, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  61. john silba

    Sooooooooooooooooooo excited about the Hobbit....any secrets you can reveal??
    what was your favorit lotr?

    January 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  62. david south

    how do you feel about the story that was just posted about you at http://www.mazmanian.net/etc.html ? thoughts ?

    January 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  63. Malik

    Hello, mr ian i really liked your role as magnito in x-men.when will we have another film?

    January 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  64. Wahab wasiu Adewale

    Great day for me to have an opportunity to talk to you.
    I will like to know about the setting of the film"lord of the rings" Its a nice film, I like it.

    January 28, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  65. Micael

    Oh my God! How wonderful, how greatful, how marvelous. It's an honor that I have the possibility to make a question to my idol of the movies, Ian Mckellen. I would like to know about everything: about your life like an actor, about your career, about the living in this wonderful city called London, about the characters which you have did and the ones you are doing on the theatres and on the movies..
    If I have the chance to see you in this play of yours Waiting for Godot, but I can't, I'm so young and don't have permission to go of course. Anyway, asking you something is more than enough to me.

    January 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  66. Gavin

    I would like to know if he has many (happy) memories of growing up in Burnley, and importantly (as it was where I was born) Wigan. Has his upbringing in these working class northern towns had an impact on the way Sir Ian lives his life?

    January 29, 2010 at 12:56 am | Reply
  67. Sue

    Hi Ian

    Cannot wait for The Hobbit, loved LOTR so much, watch it over and over. Just wondered if the role of Bilbo Baggins has been cast yet? I know several big names were being considered. Can you tell or is it a secret?

    YOU SHALL NOT PASS................lol

    January 29, 2010 at 12:59 am | Reply
  68. Louie


    How much preparation do you do for a role? Do you record your voice and play it back over and over?

    January 29, 2010 at 2:01 am | Reply
  69. Sarah Barr

    Sir Ian,
    You are absolutely amazing, in case you were not already aware. Is there any possibility over the next few years that you'll be able to visit the US again? I realize you're very busy with the newly opened play, and the Hobbit coming up, but if there was even the remote chance of you speaking at a campus nearby I would be there in a heartbeat.
    Thanks for being epic!

    January 29, 2010 at 2:11 am | Reply
  70. Terry

    How do u do it?!

    January 29, 2010 at 7:40 am | Reply
  71. Berbatov

    U are more popular than me who is a star.how does it feel act an academy award movie was the audition hard

    January 29, 2010 at 7:42 am | Reply
  72. stanley

    hello i luv making of Lord F Ring is aweson nd interest. i will like 2 see it in seasons film

    January 29, 2010 at 9:28 am | Reply
  73. Douglas

    Hi Sir Ian, greetings from Sweden.

    As most of the people here and from Torn probably will ask, how is The Hobbit process going? Do you have any update for us fans you can tell us about?

    January 29, 2010 at 9:46 am | Reply
  74. Navid Hayder

    Dear Sir Ian,

    During your recent role in 'Waiting for Godot' you have collaborated once more with Patrick Stewart.

    The two of you were legendary in your X-Men roles, I would like to ask whether you as an actor found any similarities or parallels between the relationship of Vladimir/Estragon and Xavier/Magneto?

    Thanks for all the great memories.

    January 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  75. yuri azeemov

    When are you getting a nose job?

    February 5, 2010 at 1:48 am | Reply

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