25 May 2006

Ian McKellen E-Posts

28 November 2000

Q: Hi Magneto! Years ago you led the X-Men when Xavier was injured but after seeing the movie, I noticed that you not only dislike the X-Men again, YOU DON'T SEEM TO RECOGNIZE ANY OF THEM! How is this possible???!!! And what's going on with Rogue?!!!!

A: It's true that Magneto worked at Xavier's school but that, according to the screenplay, was before the arrival of Rogue or Wolverine. The other students in the movie are perhaps too young to have met Magneto when he was in charge. As for Rogue, you may have to wait for the sequel.

Q: I am a 16-year-old X-Men fan living in San Francisco, USA. While others were screaming and yelling during the fight scenes, I was carefully listening to the dialogue exchanges (especially between Magneto and Xavier). During the train scene, after Magneto knocked Rogue unconscious, he said "Young people!" Magneto is referring to the behaviour of teenagers today; they're rude, spoiled brats.

I guess the reason why I feel a close connection to the X-Men story is because I feel like a mutant like an outcast. At school, the other students, if not neglecting me, tend to make fun of me or bully me around. Because of the treatment I have received from others, the emotions that I mostly feel are anger and sadness. Did you ever feel like an outcast during sometime in your life? If you did, how did you cope with the sadness?

A: You are not alone in feeling at times like a mutant and there must be many other X-Men fans who identify with a minority rather than the mainstream of society. When you leave school, you will be more free to choose friends who share your interests and concerns. That was certainly true for me once I got to university where for the first time I became comfortable with my sexuality.

Anger and sadness are unreliable companions. Wouldn't you feel more positive about things if you managed to ignore the bullies laugh at them, even? Good luck.

I'm glad you appreciated "Young people" which was my own ad-lib and not in the written script.

From: jamesveldon@hotmail.com 

Q: You have said that "X-Men" could be read in relation to the fight for human rights for gay men and lesbians. The way the film portrays activism is deeply troubling for me. Should we sit by and let our human rights and relationships be ignored and vilified? Senator Kelly reminded me of those raising their voices against the repeal of Clause 28 in Scotland.

A: The central disagreement between Magneto and Professor Xavier can be related to the divide evident in all human rights struggles between those who are prepared to use violence and those who are not. Beyond that, I wouldn't look to the film or the original comics' storylines to illuminate the particular problems of gay activism. As for my own sympathies, they lie with the Professor's concern to give mutants pride in their abilities.

From: Sergio Martorelli smartt@ruralrj.com.br 

Q: Probably the weirdest question about your Magneto role, but here it goes... how tall are you? 'Cause in the movie, you looked just a tad shorter than Tyler Mane. In fact, it looked like you could kick Mane's behind all over the set, if you wanted to. What's the trick? Are you really THAT tall, platform shoes, or were you just ACTING tall? :-)

A: Tyler Mane is nearly a foot taller than I am but there was no intention to trick you into thinking otherwise. The camera can, however, give the impression that an actor close to the lens is larger than one who is more distant. Certainly Magneto is proud of his physique so perhaps I was "acting tall" as well.

Q: I loved the X-men movie, but I'm a HUGE fan of Gambit...! Do you know if Gambit will be in the sequel?

A: The sequel is currently under discussion and it's likely that the mutants will be augmented by characters from the comics who didn't make it into the first movie. It is still too early to know, and therefore to speculate on casting.

From: Jennifer Sigman jlsigman@Mindspring.com

Q: I wish the movie had taken some time to explain why Toad was allied with Magneto. If I was Goddess of the Universe the movie would've been at least half an hour longer.

A: With a multitude of mutants to choose from, the X-Men writers decided to concentrate on the origins and motives of just a handful. Toad's contribution to Magneto's schemes is obviously based on his tongue ironic, then, that he should have so little to say!

From: eyal quami freedman

Q: I just saw the X-Men, and I loved it, and I think you're amazing there, one of the best & most complicated villains ever.

Even though - I was a bit bothered by something. magneto is a Jew with a number on his hand from the Holocaust. as a Jew myself, I felt a bit annoyed by the fact that he's the only character whose religion we know. why is that? Although I think the movie is wonderful, I am a bit afraid that people who know nothing about the holocaust will relate that number on someone's hand with evilness.

A: Thanks for the compliment.

It was not clear in the original script why young Eric and his parents were incarcerated in Auschwitz and I thought they could have been Jews or Gypsies or political prisoners. The comic books, which over 35 years have often contradicted themselves, do give the version of Magneto's origins as in the film. Their Magneto is Jewish and worked for a time in Israel where he first met Professor Xavier. All this would make a fine prequel to X-Men.

I don't think anyone needs himself to be Jewish to point to the final solution as the final obscenity and to feel angry about it. I found it useful in understanding Magneto's violence that he should have a personal double grudge against mankind. I didn't want to play him as a representative but as an entire original. I would expect Jews to disown him, as the mutants do.

I take your point about not knowing the other characters' religion.

From: James Veldon jamesveldon@hotmail.com 

Q: In "X-Men" the bad mutants live in a dank hole in the ground and engage in infighting while the good ones are all beautiful, live in a grand old building and help each other with their emotional problems. The movie seems to be saying that radicals are ugly, vicious and above all dangerous as the plan to mutate the politicians shows. I don't think Magneto, Toad etc give young gay people, black people, Jews, the disabled, non-nationals or non-Christians positive role models (a topic you discuss in relation to this movie) and neither do the inoffensive, closeted, self-loathing good guys. If you accept this reading, even as a possibility, then was your experience as a gay man used to perpetrate straight propaganda?

A: I am certain that the story devised by Bryan Singer and Tom De Santo was not intended to demonise Jews, gays et al. Rather they might simply be illustrating that institutionalised ill-treatment of innocents can breed violence a generation later. Magneto's conscious response to Auschwitz, (where significantly he discovers his mutancy), is to be alert to other legalised discrimination. His decision to match mutant-bashers with military force is explained but not lauded in the movie. Indeed I aimed for a paternal sympathy with Rogue, even whilst preparing to sacrifice her for the common good. I suggested pausing to tell her: "I have a daughter about your age" but this was not agreed to. Perhaps Magneto had to be pure villain but he didn't feel like that, playing him. He is a loner referring neither to his family or his race. As for the company he keeps, their tawdriness condemn him as much as his actions. Magneto is close to magnificent at times in his self-confidence but having Toad around tarnishes the image somewhat!

Some might be persuaded by Magneto's violent politicking as, without his intervention, the wicked senator's prejudice could have prevailed. Others may be troubled about the film's representation of minorities. I'm heartened by mailers who say they use X-Men in the classroom to debate the issues it raises.

From: Andrew Winson 

Q: In his first scene Magneto seems to have a Nazi-like philosophy. It is not because of past parts you have played, but because of that single line (indeed you have it on the main page of your website) "We are the future, Charles, not them." That line could be put in Hitler's mouth just as easily when he spoke of the Jews.

A: Hitler's power used constitutional power to oppress minorities. Magneto is a political subversive fighting for freedom. The rhetoric might be similar but their beliefs are not.

Q: You looked great in your Magneto costume! Where can I get a pair of boots like yours?

A: The entire Magneto action outfit, including the boots, were designed by Louise Mingenbach and custom-made to her specifications. So save up and then find a boot-maker who has seen the movie!

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