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IAN MCKELLEN (The Toad) has been honored with more than 40 international awards for his performances on screen and stage, most recently a Lifetime Achievement Golden Bear from 2006 Berlin Film Festival. 

He was born and raised in the industrial north of England and started acting professionally in 1961. After Cambridge University and a three-year apprenticeship with British regional theater companies, he rapidly established himself as the leading actor of his generation in Shakespeare and other classical plays in London. 

His legendary performances as Shakespeare's "Richard II” and Marlowe's "Edward II” stormed the 1969 Edinburgh Festival and were televised. In pursuit of the ideal theatre ensemble, he was a founder-member of the Actors' Company. As leading man for the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played Macbeth (opposite Dame Judi Dench), Romeo, Iago, and Toby Belch, and leading roles in plays by Brecht, Chekhov, Ibsen, Jonson, Shaw, and Stoppard. He has regularly starred at the National Theatre, most recently in "Peter Pan.”

McKellen also works regularly on stage in the U.S.A. In New York, he won every available award for his Salieri in Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus”; more recently, he starred in "Dance of Death” and hosted "Saturday Night Live.” He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2005. 

McKellen has also worked extensively in television in such productions as Stephen Frears' "Walter,” "The Scarlet Pimpernel,” "And the Band Played On,” "Rasputin,” "Cold Comfort Farm,” and in the longest running British soap, "Coronation Street.” McKellen has made more than 40 movies; of late, has been discovered by a new generation of cinemagoers in his role as Magneto in the "X-Men” films as well as in his Oscar®-nominated performance in "The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In 1996, he co-produced, co-scripted and starred in his film version of "Richard III.” Four years later, he received his first Oscar® nomination for his portrayal of film director James Whale in "Gods and Monsters.” In summer 2006, McKellen received much critical acclaim for his portrayal of Sir Leigh Teabing in "The Da Vinci Code.”

McKellen recently delighted his fans by triumphantly playing Dame in the traditional pantomime "Aladdin” at Kevin Spacey's Old Vic Theatre; he also recently starred in Mark Ravenhill's "The Cut” at the Donmar Warehouse. He will return to the stage in March 2007 to play King Lear in the final production for The Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival, followed by a world tour.

He has been an eloquent advocate for gay rights since he came out in 1988. The following year, he was knighted for his contribution to the performing arts. A complete biography plus occasional diary entries and regular e-posts by McKellen can be found on www.mckellen.com.

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