25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

5 September 2000

Q: I have just stood for five hours in Leicester Square for the "X-Men" London premiere! I got a kiss from Anna Paquin, shook hands with James Marsden, got Famke Janssen to bless my college study book, and cried when I touched Halle Berry! BUT YOU WEREN'T THERE! I know commitments and all, but as a young gay man I felt sort of let down.

A: Sorry to miss you in Leicester Square but I had to be working in New Zealand which is beyond even the limits of London Underground. I hope you had a ticket for X-Men and that you enjoyed it.

From: Brandi brandi@dcn.davis.ca.us

Q: Do you think Magneto would've had something suitably mocking to say about Kelly basically being turned into a sort of jellyfish creature? (And I suppose he'd've been annoyed that he died of it for the long term, having the newly-mutated world leaders die quickly would not serve his ends at all.)

A: The senator's death underlines the dreadful mistake of Magneto's plans to mutantise the world leaders. His intention is never to kill them rather it was to recruit them.

Q: I've never read any of the X-Men comics, but I went to see the movie today because you were in it. I always love a multi-layered villain and I was particularly struck by what you did with your voice for Magneto. Do you feel that the power of your voice is always an asset, and are there ever instances when it's difficult to modulate it for a particular role?

A: Ever since the invention of the talkies, film actors' voices have been crucial to their work Singin' in the Rain deals lightheartedly with this. Carol Channing used to do a sibilant comic character who whistled every time she said the "s" sound: "I am Cecilia Sisson, the silent movie star". A character's voice its accent, timbre and other idiosyncrasies is as important as his appearance.

On stage the actor has an added responsibility, to be audible across the auditorium. Hence the much-mocked "actor's voice" with its exaggerated consonants and floating vowels, designed to carry the words to the back row. Even so I always try to remember Hamlet's advice to the actors at Elsinore: "Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you 'mouth' it as most of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines."

Q: I think "X-Men" is the best action movie I've seen this summer. In the first part of the film, a young Magneto was placed in a Nazi labor camp, where he exposes his mutant power. Is Magneto Jewish?

A: Yes. You may have noticed that his father wears the yellow triangle at the death camp.

Q: Does Magneto have a girlfriend? He and Mystique would be so good together, despite the age difference.

A: Yes there is a brief moment of intimate understanding (before the torture of Senator Kelly) which is meant to imply that Magneto and Mystique are an item. I should think, considering her transmutancy, that Mystique is quite a handful in bed nothing that Magneto couldn't cope with of course. . . .

From: Javier Smith joosy@rmci.net

Q: I am a volunteer coordinator for a gay youth group in Idaho. I took the youth out to see "X-Men" and they thoroughly enjoyed it. After the movie, I took advantage to start a discussion about positive and public gay role models. It was quite astonishing for many of the youth to realize that they don't need to regard their sexuality as a crutch and that they can to do more in life than what our repressive society tries to limit them to.

Some of them have grown up thinking that their only future lies in drugs, disease, and drunkenness. Your example has helped dispel that myth for them.

A: I am touched to think that my being out could have some relevance to young people whom I am unlikely ever to meet. I am nervous about being labelled as a role model but I do remember, when I was growing up, how I longed for any sign that being gay (and being open about it) was not an obstacle to happiness and fulfillment. Even now, I am encouraged by news of anyone, famous or not, who has decided to be honest about their homosexuality. The loneliness of the closet is dispiriting.

Q: I just saw X-men the movie. It was good but could I just say something? If there is a sequel, please please let me join the cast. Trust I know just about everything about X-men. If you let me join I bet it would be bigger than the first movie. Of course it might cost a lot more. (Also I'm only 13.)

Here is a story plot. "Mystique breaks out Magneto.... Then Wolverine comes to save the day. Then they KICK MAJOR AZZ." Well let me know what you think.

A: I know it must seem fun to be in a movie particularly about a world you know so well. Considering your age maybe Harry Potter provides more suitable roles. As for your synopsis, I haven't reproduced it in full here, in case someone filches your ideas without acknowledgement! But it seems a cute outline to me why not send it to 20th Century Fox who will produce any sequel?

From: Todd F. Bonny

Q: Since both Gandalf and Magneto are familiar characters to the public, does it bother you at all that these parts both have the potential to overshadow your previous work and become your most recognisable roles?

A: It's true that Magneto has already been seen by many more people than any of the plays or films I have been in so far. That is no worry, unless audiences were in future reluctant to believe me as a character other than the Master of Magnetism. That's where disguise can be useful — Gandalf looks nothing like Magneto.

Q: Thank you for being such an utterly brill actor. Tricky Dicky. Jimmy Whale. Magneto (did you got to keep the helmet?).

A: No. The helmet is in storage along with other items that may be needed for the promised sequel. Some reviewers and e-mailers didn't care for its design, even though it was a pretty faithful copy from the comic. Perhaps we'll scrap it for the sequel. Anyway, I have just received the handy desk version, appropriately magnetised to attract errant paperclips and pins.

From: Corey Hammer chammer@fantasticfour.com

Q: I enjoyed X-Men, and your portrayal of Magneto. After viewing the publicity shots, I was dissuaded to watch it. However, your praise for the movie changed my mind.

A: I can't ask fairer than that. I hope webmaster Keith reads this.

For more about X-Men be sure to read Magneto's Lair and



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