NewsWire: Acting on Impulse - The Dominion

Many thanks to Sharon for this article!

Acting on Impulse

The Dominion - March 18, 2000

Ian McKellen - Gandalf and  GayHe hints that he may be getting too old for the stage, but Sir Ian McKellen tells Alan Samson that he will never give up his role as a campaigner for gay rights.

Sir Ian McKellen peers over his spectacles with
schoolmasterly seriousness and says he doesn't believe
in evil. 'I don't accept Stephen King's notion that
there are people who are evil, there's no evil lurking
in every cellar... evil is what some people do, but
I don't believe it exists.'

The point he is making is not lost on the meeting of
the Gay Association of Professional People he is
addressing in Wellington.

McKellen is in Wellington to play the part of the
wizard Gandalf, a character embroiled in battles
between good and evil, in Peter Jackson's Lord of the
Rings. But McKellen is not talking about wizards and
hobbits tonight . . . The man who has played Romeo,
Macbeth, Leontes, Iago, Richard III, Salieri, as well
as a Nazi war criminal, a homosexual film director and
a comic-book character, is speaking to Wellington's
professional gay men and women. He says there is still
plenty of homophobia and prejudice in the world. But,
nodding his head toward his 'old friend', gay
Christchurch MP Tim Barnett, he also expresses

'It's heartening to see the advances being made...
as a symbol of what's happening here, you can link
Tim's achievement with others all over the world.'

Last year, McKellen threatened to use the Oscars
ceremony - should he have won for his role as the
homosexual movie director in Gods and Monsters - to
make an impassioned plea for gay rights. To the almost
audible relief of the Hollywood hierarcy, he didn't win.

He was not too disappointed. Hollywood, he says, is a
'fantasy land', too caught up in commercialism to have
the courage to confront homosexuality, or any other
aching issue, such as racism and the plight of
American blacks.

Earlier this year there was criticism on the Internet,
calling him a 'gay Gandalf'. Overwhelmingly, however,
reactions to the casting were positive, he says.

'My male - M A I L - is a nuisance, it's so nice. I
get death threats only about once a year... It's
disarming if you get into a debate with someone who
doesn't accept that we should all be treated the same,
and you find the same person fervently believes in
Adam and Eve... there's nowhere to start a

Regarding Lord of the Rings, he says: 'This is the
craziest film ever made. It's the most ambitious film
ever made anywhere in the world, technically. On any
one day there are four camera crews with Jackson,
dashing around the sets. He's absolutely calm. If you
want to know what a hobbit is like, meet Peter

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