IAN McKELLEN portrays Magneto, the strongest and most powerful mutant ever known. X-MEN reunites McKellen and director Bryan Singer, whose previous collaboration was the 1998 film Apt Pupil.
MeKellen, who was knighted in 1991 for his services to the performing arts, is the most acclaimed actor of his generation. He has been honored with more than forty international
awards for his performances on stage and screen. Most recently, he received Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Satellite nominations for Best Actor for his outstanding portrayal of Hollywood director James Whale in Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters.
MeKellen was born in the industrial north of England on May 25, 1939, the son of a civil engineer. He first acted at school and at Cambridge University where he studied English Literature and appeared in twenty-one undergraduate productions. Without any formal dramatic training, he made his professional debut in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Then, for three seasons, he worked his apprenticeship with other regional companies, culminating with the opening of the Nottingham Playhouse, where he was directed by his childhood hero, Tyrone Guthrie.
His first London appearance in A Scent of Flowers (1964) won him the Clarence Derwent Award and an invitation from Laurence Olivier to join his new National Theatre Company at the Old Vie Theatre. This was followed by two seasons with the touring Prospect Theatre, storming the 1969 Edinburgh Festival as Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II. These played for two sell-out seasons in London and were televised as well. His Hamlet followed, and established McKellen as "the leading classical actor of his generation." In 1972, he co-founded the democratically run Actors' Company.
His work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon and in
London (1974-78) included plays by Brecht, Chekhov, Ibsen, Marlowe, Shaw, Stoppard and
Wedekind. His roles included Romeo, Macbeth, Leontes, Toby Belch, and lago for director
On Broadway, he has won every available award, including the Tony® Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus (1980-81).
At the Royal National Theatre, where he is a member of the Board, MeKellen's hits include Wild Honey, Coriolanus, The Cherry Orchard, The Critic, Bent, Napoli Milionaria, Uncle Vanya, An Enemy of the People and as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in Peter Pan. As Richard III, he toured the world from Tokyo to Los Angeles and later co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the filmed version. For that performance, he was named "European Film Actor of the Year" and earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor.
McKellen's solo shows, Acting Shakespeare and A Knight Out, have toured the UK, Europe and the United States, raising funds for local charities.
In addition to Gods and Monsters, Apt Pupil and Richard III, McKellen's numerous motion picture credits include Swept From the Sea, Bent, Thin Ice, HBO's Rasputin, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination as Best Supporting Actor, Restoration, Jack and Sarah, The Shadow, Cold Comfort Farm, And the Band Played On, for which he won a CableACE Award and received an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor; Six Degrees of Separation, Last Action Hero, I'll Do Anything, The Ballad of Little Jo, Scandal, Plenty, Zina, The Keep, Walter, Priest of Love, The Promise, Alfred the Great, A Touch of Love/Thank You All Very Much and The Bells of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling.
McKellen is currently filming his role as Gandalf in director Peter Jackson's adaptation of
J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy Lord of the Rings.
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