IAN McKELLEN first acted at school and with amateur groups in the north of England, where he was born and brought up. He attended Cambridge University and, since 1961, has worked non-stop in the British theatre. He has been leading man and produced plays, modern and classic, for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain and in the West End of London.
In Shakespeare he has triumphed as Richard II, Macbeth (with Judi Dench), Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III (also on film) and most recently as King Lear. He was in the first production of Martin Sherman's sensational Bent and premieres of plays by Arnold Wesker, Peter Shaffer, Michael Frayn, Alan Ayckbourn and Mark Ravenhill. Of late he has been Widow Twankey in the Old Vic's Aladdin pantomime and toured Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land with Patrick Stewart. As Salieri in Amadeus he won every available award on Broadway. For over a decade, he toured his one-man show, Acting Shakespeare.
McKellen is recognised worldwide as Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
He received his first Academy Award® nomination, for Best Actor, as the gay film director James Whale, in Bill Condon's 1998 classic Gods and Monsters.
Since he has starred in The Da Vinci Code, Mr Holmes, Beauty and the Beast and All is True , with Cats and The Good Liar yet to come.
His television work stretches from Rasputin to Coronation Street, from Extras with Ricky Gervais to Vicious with Derek Jacobi. On the first ever Film On Four, McKellen was in Stephen Frears' Walter and last year played The Dresser with Anthony Hopkins.
McKellen has been an innovator on the Internet, with one of the earliest official sites for an actor, McKellen.com, launched on September 1, 1997. In 1999 he began publishing a series of journal entries that evolved into one of the earliest non-technical blogs. His followings on social media connect more than 10 million fans.
In 1991, Sir Ian was knighted (KBE) for services to theatre in UK. He is a co-founder of Stonewall UK, which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. In 2008, the Queen personally appointed him Companion of Honour (CH), for his services to drama and to equality.