Lord of the Rings and X-Men star Ian McKellen reveals his worst moviemaking experience
Sir Ian McKellen is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, largely due to his performances as two of the most iconic characters ever - Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.
In his 60-year career, he has received numerous accolades, including a Tony Award, six Olivier Awards, and a Golden Globe Award as well as nominations for two Academy Awards, five BAFTA Awards and five Primetime Emmy Awards.
He has combined big-budget fantasy epics with Shakespeare performances on stage, and this eclectic taste in role choices has allowed him to remain fresh in the public's consciousness.
Even though productions such as X-Men and Lord of the Rings involved make-up, costumes and physicality, it was the 1983 horror movie The Keep which he describes as the worst moviemaking experience of his career.
“Michael Mann said to me, ‘You’re playing this Romanian.’ So I went to Romania to scout it out, and I learned how to speak with a Romanian accent," Sir Ian told Variety.
"Then on the first day of shooting, Michael told me he wanted me to speak with a Chicago accent. Well, I couldn’t do that, and it got worse from there.”
There aren't many people involved in the production of The Keep who look back on it with fondess, in particular director Mann, whose original 210-minute cut was slashed to 120 minutes and then 96 minutes by the studio.
Is McKellen retiring anytime soon?
This year, McKellen is starring on stage in Frank and Percy. After the actor forgot a line in one of the productions, one reviewer suggested that McKellen should retire from acting.
But, that isn't in his plans.
“Retire to do what?” he asked rhetorically.
“I’ve never been out of work, but I’m aware that any minute now something could happen to me which could prevent me from ever working again. But while the knees hold up and the memory remains intact, why shouldn’t I carry on? I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now.”
As for that aforementioned scathing review, McKellen simply shrugged it off.
“Maybe I should challenge this man to a podcast where we could debate it," he said of the writer.
“Perhaps that’s not a wise thing to do. “It might just draw more attention to it. After all, I’ve long ago made my peace with critics.”