Belfast Telegraph

Ian McKellen: Being funny doesn’t come easy to me

Ian McKellen found comedy the hardest thing to master as an actor.

Ian McKellen doesn’t find it easy to make people laugh.

The 76 year old actor has starred in dramatic roles including The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies as Gandalf, as well as X-Men and Mr. Holmes but hasn’t got a great deal of comedic parts under his belt. Ian puts this down to the genre not coming naturally to him, and as a consequence he has worked hard over the years to get better at being the joker.

“I had to learn how to be funny,” he told “It's not easy. It's not easy to be funny, for me. And you can only be funny if you are absolutely truthful. So, I've learned how to do that.”

One way that Ian managed to get in touch with his funny bone was by being honest with himself and the public about his sexuality. The actor spoke out about being a gay man in 1988 and has admitted he regrets not coming out sooner, but as soon as he did, it freed him as an actor and a person.

“It was all at the service, to begin with, of me as a gay man who wasn't entirely open about being gay, in a job where your only requirement was to be truthful,” he continued. “I was able to express myself in my work in a way that society didn't want me to express myself in real life, and when I came out, I completed that journey. When there was nobody in the world I minded knowing I was gay, everything made sense.”

Ian is now more comfortable with comedy, and has starred alongside Derek Jacobi in British sitcom Vicious since 2013 but regardless of what project he is working on, the star will continue to be a voice for the LGBT community.

“I think actors of my generation just think, ‘Oh, McKellen is bellyaching on again about gay rights. Shut up!’” he said. “What they don't realise is that there are people who need to hear that message.”

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