Today is the 77th birthday of national treasure, Sir Ian McKellen, and there are hundreds of reasons to be happy that we exist on the same planet as him but today we’re just talking about seven.
1) Lord of the Rings.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Lord of the Rings films, everybody knows at least three things: there’s a super-evil ring; Sam loves Frodo; and Ian McKellen is Gandalf. Along with Dumbledore (who people frequently mistake McKellen for), Gandalf is the most prominent wizard in modern pop culture. With a film franchise as big LOTR, the actors involved often try to distance themselves so they can be seen as “serious” artists but Sir Ian McKellen loves the films and the fans. If you weren’t convinced, then maybe you should take a look at his Elvish tattoo.
2) LGBT Activism.
If you’re a real whiz at Maths then you’ll know that Sir Ian McKellen was born in 1939 – born into a world at war and an generation that was not ready to accept the openly gay. Still, he exhibited extraordinary bravery and came out to the general British public via a BBC radio program in 1988. Ever since, he has become a patron of numerous LGBT organisations: dedicating time and money to helping the LGBT community.
3) Beauty and the Beast.
The first teaser for Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast dropped this week and as the world collectively lost its mind, they might have missed a certain somebody’s appearance in it. That’s right, one of those voices was none other than Sir Ian McKellen who will take up the role of Cogsworth. Amazingly, this is his first project with Disney but the man doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon so let’s hope it’s not his last.
Marvel properties that stand outside of Marvel Studios don’t have a great history: Fantastic Four, Spider-Man – the X-Men franchise is the exception to that rule. As much as I adore the man, I can’t put the success of a nine-film franchise down to a single person but he was there in the first one and let’s face it: a superhero story is nothing without a convincing villain. Maybe all X-Men: Apocalypse needed was a bit of McKellen.
5) He’s one gorgeous mo-fo.
Not to be superficial but… the man ages like fine wine. Just look at him!
6) Patrick Stewart.
And a greater friendship never did exist. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen may play frenemies within the X-Men franchise but there is no shortage of love between them in reality. In early 2013, McKellen even officiated the wedding of Patrick Stewart and Sunny Ozell. There are too many fantastic pictures of them to choose from but I’m particularly fond of this one of them in New York.
7) The man is simply an icon.
Icon, legend, national treasure: you can say it however you want but the point remains – Ian McKellen is brilliant and the world loves him. I’ll leave you with this video: