Actor McKellen says used to get gay death threats

LONDON Sun Jul 13, 2008 12:50pm EDT

British actor Ian McKellen pauses during an interview with Reuters in Singapore July 18, 2007. REUTERS/David Yeo

British actor Ian McKellen pauses during an interview with Reuters in Singapore July 18, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/David Yeo

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British actor Sir Ian McKellen said on Sunday he used to receive death threats due to his homosexuality and while these had fallen off in recent years, others were still being subjected to homophobia.

"There are deaths in public places on the grounds that the victim is gay," said McKellen in a BBC interview.

"There is a violence of language which can be related to violence in action," added McKellen a founder member of gay rights group Stonewall.

"My own death threats have declined considerably. I think I've become rather boring now to the public at large on this particular issue so I'm thought to be unremarkable."

An acclaimed Shakespearean actor who gained worldwide fame with film roles such as the wizard Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, McKellen "outed" himself live on radio in 1988.

In December he was made a Companion of Honor under Britain's ancient and complex system of honorary titles as recognition for his "outstanding achievements as an actor and also for his work in championing the causes of diversity".

McKellen is due to reprise the role of Gandalf in the two upcoming movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit", which will be directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

Del Toro, whose credits include "Pan's Labyrinth", will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work on both "Hobbit" films with executive producer Peter Jackson, who directed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios have said that filming will begin in 2009, with tentative release dates set of 2010 for the first film and 2011 for the sequel.

(Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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