Sir Ian McKellen

Ian Mackellen background

How do I act so well?

What I do is I pretend to be the person I’m portraying in the film or play.

You’re confused. It’s perfectly simple.

Case in point: Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson comes from New Zealand and says to me ‘Sir Ian, I want you to be Gandalf the wizard’ and I say to him ‘you are aware that I’m not really a wizard…’

And he says ‘yes, I am aware of that. What I want you to do is to use your acting skills to portray the wizard for the duration of the film.’

So I said ‘ok’. And then I said to myself ‘hmmm, how would I do that?’

And this is what I did. I imagined what it would be like to be a wizard and then I pretended and acted in that way on the day.

And how did I know what to say? The words were written down for me in a script. And how did I know where to stand?….People told me.

If we were to draw a graph of my process – my method – it would be something like this:

‘Sir Ian, Sir, Ian, Sir Ian, action, WIZARD! YOU SHALL NOT PASS! cut, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian.’


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