While it’s traditionally thought that actors are either going to make it in the movies when they’re young or not at all, it certainly wasn’t true for Ian McKellen, who as a young actor gained an impressive reputation on the stage but didn’t get many film roles.
Then, in 1998 in response to Maggie Thatcher’s anti-gay policies, he came out, which many at the time thought was career suicide. However as he points out on a new THR podcast, the opposite was true and he started scoring great movie role, something he partially credits to coming out helping improve his acting skills, aiding his versatility..
“It all happened after coming out,” he says. “I had no idea this silly thing was a weight on my shoulders.”
“That’s my message to anyone in this town who thinks ‘I’ve got to stay in the closet to be successful in films’. I didn’t.”
He also has a message for the current crop of actors worried about coming out, saying, “Do you want to be a famous movie star who has love scenes with ladies and in private be an unhappy gay? There’s no choice. Forget the career, dear. Go and do something else … A closet’s a really nasty place to live, you know? It’s dirty, it’s dusty, it’s full of skeletons. You don’t want it. Open that door — fling it wide and be yourself.”
The quick look at his IMDB [age shows that he really did see an explosion in his screen credits after coming out, and he has since scored two Oscar nominations and become one of the most beloved septuagenarians on the planet, thanks to the likes of X-Men and Lord Of The Rings – all while being out, proud and never afraid to talk about his sexuality.
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