For this next #ApprenticeStories piece, we will touch upon Sir Ian McKellen, the mastermind behind Gandalf and Magneto. Sir Ian is one of the most celebrated actors today, both for his amazing acting performances, as well as his continued support for LGBT social movements across the world. McKellen took the apprenticeship route, honing his acting skills from an early age.
Ian McKellen was inspired to get into acting when he was just 3 years old. He was fascinated by theatrical performances, citing his trip to see Peter Pan at Manchester Opera House as one of his main influences. His career in acting began at Bolton Little Theatre, a charity which he now funds to this day.
The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry would be where Ian got his first job in the acting business. It would be where he would spend 3 years as an apprentice actor, which provided him with a solid foundation for his future acting endeavours. Many actors go to Drama School to learn how to act, but McKellen would take an alternative route. This was where work based learning obviously benefited McKellen immensely, the same way it benefits many successful apprentices. His first professional acting appearance was in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre, in a play called ‘A Man for All Seasons.’
McKellen would then perform for 4 years in theatres in different regions across the country before making his first appearance in the West End, in a play called ‘A Scent of Flowers.’ His success in theatre would make him more and more popular and well known amongst theatre goers, which would then lead to his first film role in ‘A Touch of Love’ in 1969.
The sheer amount of plays and films that Ian McKellen would feature in would make him better and better at acting, and would lead to huge roles in award winning movies like the Lord of The Rings and the X Men. Without a doubt, Ian is most well-known for his portrayal of Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. He made JRR Tolkien’s wizard hero into one of the most beloved movie characters of all time, something that only an actor like Ian could pull off.
His charity work is something that should not go unnoticed. As he is a gay man, he has championed numerous LGBT campaigns worldwide, offering his support where he could. He is a great role model for the LGBT community.
Overall, Sir Ian McKellen’s acting apprenticeship at the Belgrade Theatre would give him a solid foundation to inspire millions through theatrical performances, on screen character portrayals, and LGBT rights movements. He took something he was passionate about from an early age and mastered it to become admired across the world.