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Classy Ian McKellen Responds to Damian Lewis' Accusation that McKellan Is a 'Fruity Actor' Who 'Only Plays Wizards'

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrities Are Better than You | December 10, 2013 | Comments ()


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Damian Lewis did not say that, did he? Our beloved Lewis? He of Homeland and, more importantly, Life and Band of Brothers? He said that about One of the Greatest Treasures of Modern Civilization?

Yeah, he did. Kind of. Without naming names (though, it’s obvious to whom Lewis is referring, McKellan and Michael Gamon), Lewis said in an interview with The Guardiana few months ago that:

He did not want to end up “as one of those slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn’t start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards”.

Why wouldn’t he want to end up that way? What is wrong with that? People would kill for the career that Ian McKellan has had. I want to be a slightly over-the-top fruity actor with two Oscar nominations and a role in the Harry Potter movies that will be remembered for decades.

Anyway, McKellan — who has been warned not to travel to Russia because he is gay — responded to Lewis’ statement in a fashion as classy as you’d expect from the 74 year old. From the BBC:

“So he feels sorry for me, does he? Well, I’m very happy, he needn’t worry about me”, although he did agree Lewis’s remark was “fair comment”.

However, he went on to say: “To rebut it, I wouldn’t like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn’t particularly like just to keep the income up.

“I’ve always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You’ve only got to see my early work to see that.”

Regarding the “fruity voice” comment, Sir Ian said: “Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer’s voice: to fill a large space. It is unnatural.”

He added: “To be allowed for the first time in your later career to play leading parts in extremely popular movies is not a situation to worry about.”

Boom! Suck on that, Brody. Let’s see what kind of career you have after you’re killed off of Homeland, asshole (actually, it’ll probably be a very good one, because Lewis is a very talented actor, but that diminishes my point!)

(Source: BBC)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • e jerry powell
    Lewis issued a statement on Wednesday in response:
    "I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 – it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career. I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies."</blcokquote>
  • Emm82

    "Fruity"? Fuck you Damien Lewis! Very disappointed in you.

  • JAG

    He doesn't want to play an aging wizard but he's ok with playing a character that should have died in the first season, whose continued presence is unnecessary and bringing down the entire show?

  • Wicked

    Wow, I didn't know something like this would matter so much. I mean sure one person said something kinda off I'm afraid and another answered it assuming that the other person was talking about him. It might be misinterpretation, but it might also be sarcasm, dry humor... I don't take what its said on magazines too seriously, most of these articles might take things wayyy out of context... So, I dunno. I can't write off Capt. Winters yet... D:

    DONT BLAME MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  • F'mal DeHyde

    It's a Pajiba thing.

  • John W

    That's sad. I don't think McKellan has to apologize for his career.

  • Kate the Greatest

    He's an elderly gay man who gets my panties wet as Magneto. Gravitas in a comic book movie is hard to pull off. Being that improbably sexy is worth awards.

  • Susan Cholette

    Sir Ian played the titular roll in the brilliant 1995 screen adaptation of Richard III and has done a few other serious roles. I'm more than willing to begrudge him stints in LOTR, Xmen, DaVinci Code or whatever else pays the bills, especially as he does it with such flair.

  • Maddy

    I wasn't really a fan of Michael Gambon in the HP movies to be honest, but you DO NOT say that about Ian McKellen. His reply is amazing.

  • GrungellaVedder

    I like that Sir Ian still responded in a very gentlemanly manner. If that was me I would have just replied what you said---"Let’s see what kind of career you have after you’re killed off of Homeland, asshole."

  • luthien26

    It should also be noted that McKellan's first Oscar nomination came before the wizard-playing, so it wasn't exactly like no one had heard of him before "Lord of the Rings" came along (I certainly knew who he was!). Besides, Gandalf is a great role!

  • gutpunchprod

    Yeah, that wizard McKellan played in 'Apt Pupil' was one of the most fantastical I've ever seen.

  • lost_limey

    And the one in all those X-men movies.

  • Sean

    Well, Magneto is sorta wizard-y.

  • lost_limey

    Fine. "Gods & Monsters," then.or Richard III

  • BlackRabbit

    It did magically make me care about Shakespeare the first time I saw it.

  • melancholicmess

    I think it's in bad taste for one actor to criticize another other than things besides acting. For someone whose profession has a short shelf life, Damian Lewis should try a little humility - Homeland will only last for so long.

  • jeannebean

    And Band of Brothers and The Forsyte Saga were a looong time ago.
    This pettiness and shit-stirring is just so juvenile. If he needs to make himself feel better by trying (and failing) to tear down someone else, that's just cowardly.

  • Melanie Elaine

    "Why wouldn’t he want to end up that way? What is wrong with that? People would kill for the career that Ian McKellan has had. I want to be a slightly over-the-top fruity actor with two Oscar nominations and a role in the Harry Potter movies that will be remembered for decades."

    Erm...McKellan was/is Gandalf. Gambon was Dumbledore. Otherwise, I fully agree and Damian Lewis sucks at opinions.

  • stella

    Also Morgan Freeman! But Dreamcatcher wasnt very good.

  • meh

    Damian Lewis was in Dreamcatcher. I have no further comment.

  • Laura

    I'm not sure if this is a positive comment on Dreamcatcher or not, but it did have the Olyphant in it, and that's good enough for me!

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Dreamcatcher was good fun, but high brow it ain't. I'd be wary about casting stones there, Jonesy.

  • Pippa_Laughingstock

    " I want to be a slightly over-the-top fruity actor with two Oscar nominations and a role in the Harry Potter movies that will be remembered for decades." Um. Bet Gandalf would too.

  • AvaLehra

    Didn't like Damian Lewis in Band of Brothers, don't like him now.

  • JenVegas

    You can go straight to Hades sir. Ian McKellan is an international fucking treasure and don't you forget it. What a dipstick.

  • Debra Kessing

    this makes me sad. I loved Lewis as Charlie Crews in Life, a little known short lived gem of a series. Also think he is wonderful in Homeland, although now past his use by date.
    Sir Ian McKellan should be ashamed of playing one of the major roles in a trilogy of JR Fucking Tolkien's books??? Movies that are (generally} heralded as the greatest transition of novels to screen, in my opinion, ever. Playing a role like Gandalf, which encompasses everything, every emotion, everything great you could ask for in a character. Wizards ROCK. Sir Ian rocks, as an actor and as a man. Damien Lewis -- you just made baby jesus cry :P

  • MJ

    Even if you take the word "fruity" out of the entire exchange, it's still utterly ridiculous for any actor to suggest that either Ian McKellen or Michael Gamon has anything other than an extremely successful, enviable career by any measure. Millions upon millions of people, actors or otherwise, could only dream of that kind of creative, financial and critical success. I would be interested to read the comments in context. What on earth is he smoking?

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Hasn't Damien Lewis said something else douchie before? I mean... I have liked him since Band of Brothers, but it seems like I remember another situation where he was kind of an a-hole. But maybe it is just sarcasm... dry humor... ?

  • Be that as it may, Mr Lewis, at least McKellen doesn't have a smugness black hole for a face.

  • stella

    Hi Mr Lewis. And fuck you. Asshole.

  • "in the Harry Potter movies" Wait, what?

    Are you mistaking Ian McKellan with Michael Gambon?

  • Ryan Horan

    My immediate takeaway too. LOTR and HP are not equal!

  • Sean

    HP is actually more entertaining.

  • greg

    How so

  • Ben

    Pacing.

  • emmalita

    No, he's talking about Ian McKellan AND Michael Gambon.

    Without naming names (though, it’s obvious to whom Lewis is referring, McKellan and Michael Gamon),

  • Sara_Tonin00

    And Nigel Terry, perhaps. But Richard Harris managed to do film before hitting Hogwarts.

  • e jerry powell

    Oh, I know this bitch wasn't talking about Nigel Terry. Not only would I tell him to have a seat, I'd throw the seat at his disrespectful ginger head.

    Damian Lewis should be so lucky as to work with SWINTON and MIRREN so many times in his shitty little life.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    To be fair, Nigel Terry is both younger than I thought he was, and apparently still alive.

  • e jerry powell

    And fucking lovely, to boot. It has something to do with all that SWINTON collaborating, IMO.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Excuse me, Damian Lewis, have you had an iconic "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" moment yet in your career? No, no you haven't. Shut up and sit down.

  • InternetMagpie

    Damien Lewis' WIFE is NARCISSA MALFOY.
    What the hell, guy.

  • Sue

    I would say that the word Fruity was misinterpreted, except for the fact that Ian McKellan is also British and it would appear he also took it as a negative. However, kudos to Ian McKellan for being the classy act.

  • Robert

    If playing a wizard would guarantee me an Academy Award nomination, I would want to play nothing but wizards.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I look forward to seeing Lewis in his role as Merlin in the 2042 remake of Excalibur.

  • Sean

    Who plays Patrick Stewart and Liam Neesons parts?

  • BWeaves

    Ah, spoken like Soames Forsyte.

  • Guest

    Are you sure this isn't another instance of Yanks not understanding the different way slang works in the U.K? Fruity is Frisky for the Brits which definite ly applies to McKellen.

    See: Fanny.

  • Emm82

    It was still an insult, Fruity is used more often as a gay slur these days in the UK.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Yes, but there's also the rest of what he said, which is insulting.

  • Joseph Finn

    Exactly.

  • Dammit, Brody!

  • mrsdalgliesh

    In my case, "Dammit, Crews!"

  • Ozioma

    Ladyboner for Damian Lewis: deactivated forever.

  • Kala

    I find Lewis' use of the term "fruity" to be a disappointment. Sad, since I can tell what the man was trying to say - i.e. the whole 'Quality Projects v. Commercial Success' discussion - but he said it so goddamn badly, he's officially stricken off of my Hot Ginger List.

  • Ian Fay

    I think the British are more free with that word than us Yanks, much like the dreaded C-word.

  • Jim

    Cole-slaw! There I said it and I'm not afraid.

  • Australians love to use that word. Love.

  • Ben

    Honestly untill the post here about it over, I think an onion twitter post? I didn't even realise americans got so offended by the word c*** it's... as an aussie it's just confusing.

  • Zen

    Do we? Guess I learned something about myself today.

  • Oh, we do. Though we get away with it in our house by using the term "ankle", which is something three feet lower than the other thing.

    So, for the Australians reading, Scott Morrison is the government's Chief Ankle.

  • Zen

    Must hurt like a bitch when you twist your ankle.

  • I've known a few that do, but perhaps I only know foul mouthed australians.

  • Zen

    It tends to be the exceptions that make the rule.

  • linnyloo

    My inner pollyanna who likes to think the best of everyone is thinking he's making more of a statement on style of voice -- like "plummy" -- instead of a slur.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    That's how I took it too.

    And as far as his description goes, he could be talking about Alan Rickman.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Eh, Rickman jumped into commercial film success earlier in his life than Harry Potter.

  • Kala

    I'd like to think that's the case. I'm also trying to give a bit of cultural leeway as well, since I'm an American, and I know in my case, that word has very specific connotations and may be used slightly differently elsewhere.

    With that said, the entire statement ended up coming off as completely dick-ish, so Lewis is now banished from my affections. That's the high price one must pay to mess with my pal, Ian.

  • Ian Fay

    Submitted without content:

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