IAN MCKELLEN Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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McKellen, 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.


McKellen 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 Vic 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 Iago for director Trevor Nunn.
On Broadway, he has won every available award, including the TonyŽ Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (1980-81).