Sir Ian McKellen 'will always regret' not realising the significance of coming out earlier

'I think I would have been a different person and a happier one'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir Ian McKellen has one regret he believes will stay with him forever - not realising the significance of coming out earlier in his life.

The Lord of the Rings actor came out in 1988 and has been a vocal campaigner for LBGT rights ever since. But Sir Ian told The Huffington Post he would likely have been “a different person and a happier one” if he had been open about his homosexuality long before this date.

“I regret and always shall that I didn't see the significance of coming out at a much earlier date because I think I would have been a different person and a happier one," he said. "Self-confidence is the most important thing that anybody can have.

“You don't have that if part of you is ashamed or hiding something. I can reassure people who don't feel they're able to, the world will like you better because people like honesty and authenticity."

Leading gay and bisexual actors rarely spoke of their sexuality when Sir Ian first started acting, leading him to believe he too should remain silent. Yet far from damaging his acting prospects, Sir Ian said his career in film took off after he came out as gay.

“It is true that my film career took off after I'd come out," he said. "One of the first parts that drew attention to me in cinema roles is Gods of Monsters, which is about a gay man. And it didn't bother the producers and director of Lord of the Rings that Gandalf was an openly gay man. There was some silly dirty remarks about Gandalf the gay, but [being gay] has not been an impediment either before I came out or after."

Sir Ian, who is the co-founder of the leading LBGT rights charity Stonewall, said last year his lasting legacy would most likely be his homosexuality and his role as Gandalf. “I often thought my gravestone would say, ‘Here lies Gandalf. He came out,’ he joked. “Those are two of the proudest achievements that I’ve got.”