Lancashire's Ian Mckellen on his age and the future - including another Lord of the Rings film

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Lancashire’s, and of the UK’s, most revered actors Ian McKellen has opened up about ageing and what he hopes the future has in store for him.

Days after celebrating his 85th birthday, Burnley born actor Ian McKellen had a rare in-depth interview with The Times which was only released to the public this week.

The prolific star of stage and screen, perhaps best known for his role as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, is currently playing Falstaff in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 called ‘The Player Kings’, and much of the interview did focus on that, however topics such as age, politics and future projects also came up.

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Take a look below at some of the highlights from Ian’s latest interview...

Comments on ageing

At the start of the interview, Ian tells the reporter: “If you want to know that you are mortal you just have to look at your address book. And so when a script comes through, or the hint of an offer, you think, ‘This might be my last job. No. I’m not doing that.’ So if Falstaff is my last job, I’d better get it right, hadn’t I?”

Speaking of his current role as Falstaff, later on in the interview, Ian describes how his whole days now are centred around mustering up the energy to perform the role for over three hours- perhaps a tell tale sign of his age.

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The former Bolton School pupil admitted to having a nap before every 6.30pm start - hanging a sign on his doorknob that reads “Falstaff is having a snooze. Please Do Not Disturb.” - and lying in late the day after also.

Ian told the Times: “I get plenty of sleep. But I don’t do anything else. I can’t read a book. I can hardly reply to a letter. Friends don’t mind it because they know me. But you have people saying, ‘I sent you my play a month ago and you still haven’t read it.’”

L: Burnley's Ian McKellen pictured in 2024. R: Ian poses with Gandalf's stick in 2019. Credit: Getty and submitL: Burnley's Ian McKellen pictured in 2024. R: Ian poses with Gandalf's stick in 2019. Credit: Getty and submit
L: Burnley's Ian McKellen pictured in 2024. R: Ian poses with Gandalf's stick in 2019. Credit: Getty and submit | Getty and submit

Plans for the future

Ian still has a week left in London playing the role of Falstaff at the Noël Coward Theatre, before doing shows in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle throughout July, and he - perhaps surprisngly - says he hopes to improve his performance in that time.

The award-winning actor explained: “I’ve been inside Falstaff, but I’ve not got him inside me. When I sniff an audience I get excited and I want to entertain them. I’m not yet sure I quite entertain them in the right way. I should surprise them and disturb them more.”

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Looking further ahead, Ian revealed a hope that his play ‘Frank and Percy’, which he and his friend Roger Allam took to the West End last year, will become a film.

He also admitted to The Times that he had heard “stirrings in Tolkien land” and indeed it was recently announced that a new Lord of the Rings film, The Hunt for Gollum, will be released in 2026.

Ian added that he had heard Galdaf was due to feature in the film and he hasn’t “shaved in months” thanks to his Falstaff role so is more prepared than ever to get back into his wizarding ways.

However casting doubt on the certainty of a reprisal, Ian told the Times: “But there is no script, there is no offer, there is no plan.”

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When asked if he would be interested in reprising his role anyway, Ian reportedly paused, then chuckled and said “If I’m alive”!

Ian outside the Wigan house he spent his childhood in. He was born in Burnley but lived in Wigan until he was 12, when he moved back to Lancashire - to Bolton. Credit: Frank OrrellIan outside the Wigan house he spent his childhood in. He was born in Burnley but lived in Wigan until he was 12, when he moved back to Lancashire - to Bolton. Credit: Frank Orrell
Ian outside the Wigan house he spent his childhood in. He was born in Burnley but lived in Wigan until he was 12, when he moved back to Lancashire - to Bolton. Credit: Frank Orrell | Frank Orrell

Did Ian say anything about growing up in Lancashire?

The interview didn’t delve much into Ian’s past, but a discussion around politics did lead to one comment.

Ian told the Times: “I remember leaving my school [in Bolton] in the sixth form and cycling down to the town square to see Aneurin Bevan on the hustings without a microphone. There aren’t any great orators like that around, are there?”

On the political note, Ian also talked about Donald Trump, Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and the LGBTQ rights movement in his interview. To read the full thing click here.

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