McKellen is a star, and he doesn’t even use his magic or magnetic power to achieve it

As with some other great film actors, McKellen started acting predominately in theatre and to critical success. McKellen has won five Lawrence Olivier Awards and one Special Olivier Award. There are only three people who have ever beaten this record and affirms McKellen well respected place within the theatre.

He started his film career in 1969 with Thank You All Very Much but didn’t get seriously considered by the film world until 1998 when two films, Gods and Monsters and Apt Pupil both received rave reviews from critics. McKellen was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for Gods and Monsters and Apt Pupil notably marked his first collaboration with director, Bryan Singer. This would later lead to one of his most famous roles in the long running X-Men franchise, as the main villain, Magneto. By 2014 the franchise had generated over $1 billion and is positioned as the thirteenth highest grossing franchise of all time.

Between 2001 and 2003, all three Lord of the Rings films were released to huge critical acclaim, and McKellen starred famously as Gandalf, a powerful wizard. The first film, The Fellowship of the Ring saw him nominated for another Academy Award, this time as a supporting actor. If you include the more recent The Hobbit films, which McKellen also stars in, this franchise has grossed over $1.6 billion and is positioned as the sixth highest grossing franchise of all time. McKellen is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Throughout his career he has often returned to theatre and has lent his voice to characters and narrator roles in films such as Stardust, The Golden Compass and Spung! The Magic Roundabout. McKellen is one of the finest actors in Hollywood, and we’re extremely proud to call him British.


1939

Born Ian Murray McKellen on the 25th of May in Burnley, Lancashire.

1939

1957

Won a scholarship to study at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge.

1957

1961

Made his professional debut in a production of A Man for All Seasons

1961

1964

Made his TV debut as Plowden in The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling.

1964

1969

Co-founded the LGBT lobbying group, Stonewall

1969

1976

Performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company as Macbeth opposite Dame Judy Dench

1976

1977

Won his first Olivier Awards for Best Actor in a Revival for Pillars of the Community

1977

1981

Awarded his first Tony Award for his title role in Amadeus

1981

1991

Knighted for his achievements in acting

1991

1995

Stars in Richard III as the title character, this is also the first film for which he received a writing credit

1995

2003

Takes the lead for Emile a story about a man seeking redemption

2003

2013

Starts performing on Broadway in a double bill of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot with X-Men co-star Patrick Stewart.

2013