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  Sir Ian McKellen: full interview
Updated 01 May 2003, 18.46
Sir Ian McKellen
LOTR star Sir Ian McKellen chats to Newsround's Lizo about his role in new mutant flick, X-Men 2

Magneto is a very evil character. It's partly explained by his history. Does this make him easier to play?
I don't think Magneto is evil. I know he's known as the greatest super villain of all time but that just depends which way you're looking at him.

Basically he represents a point of view which is familiar in any civil rights movement. What do you do if you're an outcast in society? Do you become part of it? Do you not draw attention to yourself and try to fit in?

Or do you do what Magneto does and stick up for yourself. 'We are the future childs' - that's one of the lines of the first movie.

Is that a villainous point of view? It depends which way you look at it.

How does playing Magneto compare to Gandalf in LOTR?
There's no comparison really is there? During my career I've played a lot of parts, something like about 250 different characters.

All Ian McKellen, but all in my mind separate from each other.

Sir Ian McKellen
So I don't when I'm sitting in the middle of Little Earth as Gandalf with all the beard and what not I'm not thinking about Magneto.

And when I'm doing magical things as the Master of Magnetism I'm not thinking about Gandalf so I don't make the connections.

And hopefully I look different on the screen, and sound a little bit different so the audience doesn't get confused either.

You've had this amazing career and in the last few years taken on roles children will associate with. Is this deliberate?
It's just the way things have worked out.

When I was very young I played David Copperfield on screen for 13 weeks on BBC television for kids and had a lot of young fans because of that so it's not entirely alien.

What is unusual is the very young age of some of Gandalf's fans - he's got five or six year-olds that have seen the film 20 or 30 times. I take it as a compliment.

But I know in my heart of hearts that when that little five-year-old looks up at me and asks for my autograph, that basically what they're asking is Gandalf for his autograph but that's fine with me.

Is it a bit like what it was like for Alec Guinness and Star Wars?
I don't make good distinctions between being in a very, very popular movie and being in a play in the West End of London that a lot fewer people see. To me it's just work.

And actually I'm rather late in the day, enjoying doing two things at once.

At the moment I'm in a play in the West End of London - Dance of Death it's called - and at the same time 100 yards away in Leicester Square in London you can go and see LOTR and X-Men 2 and it's the same actor.

And that makes me feel nice and warm inside and it's something I've always wanted to do.

Would you have got involved with X-Men, playing what is essentially a comic book character if you hadn't already worked with Brian Singer before?
No - success as an actor, or getting on and getting parts that you really want to play, is not something you can easily manipulate yourself.

Sir Ian McKellen
You can have agents, you can have managers, you can have people scouting around on your behalf but in the end it probably comes down to the luck and the chance of knowing the person who makes the decisions as I knew Brian Singer.

Yep, chance and luck. It just means you have to try with each job, be as good as you can so directors will want to employ you next time round.

Do you find it more difficult projecting a performance against backdrops of huge effects and action as opposed to acting on the stage?
In my imagination I believe I'm in the place we're supposed to be - just like when I'm on stage I believe I'm in the place where the story is told.

It's all happening in the imagination and young people will understand that because young people live in their imaginations more than adults so it's a very precious thing. They should try and hold on to that.

Have you seen anything of Return of the King yet?
No. When I finish my play in June I go down to New Zealand for two weeks filming and I'll see the film there.

But Peter Jackson tells me it's better than the first two movies put together!

More InfoBORDER=0
PicturesSnaps of the X-Men 2 premiere
Find OutFull Rings section
Find OutWhat is the Lord of the Rings?
Find OutWho is Sir Ian McKellen?
ChatYour questions to X-Men star Anna Paquin
ClubX-Men 2's not for the faint hearted!


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Rebecca Romjin-Stamos: full interview
Mutant-fans pack London for X-Men premiere
X-Men's Rogue: 'Don't call me a skunk!'


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