25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

3 March 2000

On Sci-Fi Roles

Q: Within the next few years, you will be visually associated with two major forces in the science fiction and fantasy worlds—X-Men and The Lord of the Rings. Are you concerned, as an actor, that you will suddenly be seen in the film industry as the "seasoned Shakespearean actor who lends respectability to our sci-fi/fantasy project?" 

A: I think it's a little late in my career to be typecast more than I am already. But professionally I have always tried not to repeat myself. Romeo and Richard III may both be Shakespeare characters but they have little in common! I like risk and almost always take parts that I am not quite certain I can play. It's like going into the wild and hoping that, helped by the script and the director, I can find a map. The film industry likes actors to repeat themselves only as long as audiences do too. I choose work that satisfies my own interest in constantly improving as an actor. I always enjoy seeing colleagues do something unexpected. So of late, I have played three classic theatre roles - Chekov, Coward and Shakespeare. Magneto and Gandalf are giants of late twentieth century culture and I am enjoying discovering them.

The Website

Q: What prompted you to set it up your website?

A: I have often be asked to write an autobiography. Writing at length is painful for me and I thought a more useful presentation of my work might be a cyber catalogue of credits, illustrations and comments from me. It is a longer process than I reckoned with: might have been easier to write the book after all.

But I like being able to add to the site regularly on current jobs as well as others over the last 40 years. I also hope it helps journalists who dip into it to avoid quoting me inaccurately!

Big Budget Movies

From John snake_falcon@yahoo.com

Q: How does it feel to be in a big budget movie as opposed to an arthouse movie?

A: Whilst filming there is one big difference for the actors. Money can buy time and so the bigger the budget the more likely it is that there will be time (and spare film) to retake each shot until everyone is totally satisfied. That does not mean that only expensive films are good, of course. Look at Blair Witch Project, which cost less than a million dollars and wowed the public (although Oscar didn't seem to approve judging by the nominations). Where money really counts is in the distributor's budget, making sure that the film is well-publicised and reaches its target audience. 

From Ralph fiffoon@hotmail.com

Q: Having signed contracts for two major budget action movies, aren't you worried that if X-Men flops (god forbid) that it will have a toll on Lord of the Rings and eventually on your career (cause I would hate to see that happen)?

A: Film stars' popularity whose personalities are the main feature of their movies might have to worry about such things. As it is, both X-Men and The Lord of the Rings are of course bigger than the actor playing Magneto and Gandalf.


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