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IAN McKELLEN (Roy) has been honored with more than 40 international awards for his performances on screen and stage.

He was born in 1939 and raised in the industrial north of England of Northern Irish stock. He started acting professionally in 1961. After reading English at Cambridge University and completing a three-year apprenticeship with regional theatre companies in the UK, he was soon recognized in London as a prominent actor of his generation in Shakespeare and other classical plays.

His youthful performances as Shakespeare's "Richard II" and Marlowe's "Edward II" stormed the 1969 Edinburgh Festival, played two seasons in London, toured Europe and were televised. In pursuit of the ideal theatre ensemble, he was a founder-member of the touring Actors' Company. As leading man for the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has played Macbeth with Judi Dench and Iago with Willard White, both now DVD classics. He has starred in a score of modern plays in London, many for the National Theatre under its first director Laurence Olivier and his successors. McKellen delighted his fans by playing an outrageous Dame two years running in the traditional pantomime "Aladdin" at the Old Vic Theatre in London. He then toured the world as King Lear in the final production for The Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival (2007), followed by a sell-out tour and two London seasons in "Waiting for Godot."

He recently completed 100 performances of his second "King Lear" in London's West End. McKellen has worked extensively on television, including performances in Stephen Frears' "Walter," "The Scarlet Pimpernel," "And the Band Played On," "Rasputin," "Cold Comfort Farm," and the ITV sit-com "Vicious." In 2005 he fulfilled his ambition to act in the ever-running British soap, "Coronation Street."

He has made more than 40 movies. In 1995, he executive produced, co-scripted and starred in the film adaptation of "Richard III." After Stephen King's "Apt Pupil," he achieved his first Oscar nomination as film director James Whale in "Gods and Monsters." A young generation of cinemagoers discovered him as the mutant Magneto in the "X-Men" films, and as the wizard Gandalf, in his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. McKellen joined Bill Condon's "Beauty and the Beast," lending his voice as Cogsworth alongside a fantastic ensemble cast, including Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Emma Thompson. He will next be seen starring as Gus the Theatre Cat in the Tom Hooper movie of "Cats."

McKellen recently completed the tour of his one-man show, "Ian McKellen On Stage: With Tolkien, Shakespeare, Others and YOU," which started in the West End this September at the Harold Pinter Theatre, all proceeds of which are being donated towards theatre charities.

He has been an eloquent advocate for gay rights since he came out in 1988 and cofounded Stonewall, the UK charity which lobbies for legal and social equality for gay people. The following year, he was knighted for his contribution to the performing arts. In 2007, the Queen appointed him Companion of Honour "for services to Drama and Equality." He lives in East London's Docklands, close to The Grapes public-house where he is a lease-holder.


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