Comic Reel-lief - Behind the Mask: Sir Ian McKellen


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In Hollywood, the films that sell are the ones where All-American heroes take on baddies -- primarily foreign ones ? and win convincingly against a backdrop of explosions and hot women waiting to lay the lead guy. So whilst the heroes are mainly homegrown, America often looks to Britain to provide an actor that will willingly play the villain. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), Darth Vader (David Prowse), Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) -- all were played by British actors. So what happens when you put a classically trained Knight of the Realm slash Shakespearean actor in a "dorky helmet" for three films? Greatness, that's what.

The above is from: http://www.earth-2.net/columns/wilson_i/comic-reel-lief-07

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Ian, in my opinion this is your best piece to date. It's informative but never dry; the entire time I felt engaged as a reader, and fully entertained. My favorite thing, however, is the level of emotion you poured into it. It's very clear you have a deep, loving respect for McKellen. Every word was filled with passion, yet you never gushed like a perky schoolgirl.

Excellent writing, sir!

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Tremendous column, Ian. It's so easy to forget how important Ian McKellen's performance was to the success of the first X-Men, and I really doubt the genre would have the kind of traction it has today without that.

McKellen is the cat's ass, and has been in my eyes since Richard III, which is one of those movies everyone should see before they die. (Before that, he was "that guy who was kinda funny as Penelope Ann Miller's dad in The Shadow", which I freely admit to having a soft spot for).

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Ian, in my opinion this is your best piece to date. It's informative but never dry; the entire time I felt engaged as a reader, and fully entertained. My favorite thing, however, is the level of emotion you poured into it. It's very clear you have a deep, loving respect for McKellen. Every word was filled with passion, yet you never gushed like a perky schoolgirl.

Excellent writing, sir!

Many thanks! Not just for the feedback, but also for that swanky banner! I did a double-take when reading through the article on the main page though as GLBT has always been LGBT over here in Blighty. Eh, chalk it up as another difference between our two nations.

Tremendous column, Ian. It's so easy to forget how important Ian McKellen's performance was to the success of the first X-Men, and I really doubt the genre would have the kind of traction it has today without that.

Whilst this is true, I made sure I didn't overstate this in the column. 'X-Men' wouldn't have failed if they'd got, say, Eric Roberts to play Magneto because you still have the cool Mystique role or Hugh Jackman breaking out, blades and all (not to mention Anna Paquin for me!). That said, so-so business does equal a franchise and I fear that if you didn't have that last image of McKellen watching Stewart leave his plastic cell in his somewhat pimping plastic wheelchair, X2 might never have happened.

McKellen is the cat's ass, and has been in my eyes since Richard III, which is one of those movies everyone should see before they die. (Before that, he was "that guy who was kinda funny as Penelope Ann Miller's dad in The Shadow", which I freely admit to having a soft spot for).

Richard III is a truly awesome film interpretation of a Shakespeare play. And whilst I've watched The Shadow before, it hasn't been for years and I really only remember Alec Baldwin laughing like a maniac and Tim Curry running away from him.

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Tremendous column, Ian. It's so easy to forget how important Ian McKellen's performance was to the success of the first X-Men, and I really doubt the genre would have the kind of traction it has today without that.

Whilst this is true, I made sure I didn't overstate this in the column. 'X-Men' wouldn't have failed if they'd got, say, Eric Roberts to play Magneto because you still have the cool Mystique role or Hugh Jackman breaking out, blades and all (not to mention Anna Paquin for me!). That said, so-so business does equal a franchise and I fear that if you didn't have that last image of McKellen watching Stewart leave his plastic cell in his somewhat pimping plastic wheelchair, X2 might never have happened.

No, of course, X-Men would have been a financial success with JC Van Damme in the role, provided he did a split in the trailer. McKellen is responsible for far more than his share of the movie's artistic success, however, and that's what opened a lot of peoples' eyes to the possibility that you could actually make real movies out of this material.

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I have to agree with the previous posters. Beautiful, Ian!

Gods and Monsters is maybe one of the greatest films ever made. I love it unconditionally and am willing to punch people in the nose who disagree.

Ian McKellan Fun Fact: He's very short. I met him at a Tinseltown theatre when they were filming the first X-Men. I was in line for...uhmm...NOT Reign of Fire, when he was talking to the theatre manager. I walked up and shook his hand. I look like Patrick Ewing next to him!

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How tall are you, Des? I met him at an after-play thing, and while he was shorter than me, it wasn't by more than an inch or two.

5'11". Though I was probably wearing army boots that gave me an inch and a half and he was definitely wearing flat-footed loafers. Clearly this was early on in the "shooting in Vancouver" thing because you shouldn't wear flat-footed loafers in a city in the middle of a rainforest. Had a strange wardrobe going on...

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How tall are you, Des? I met him at an after-play thing, and while he was shorter than me, it wasn't by more than an inch or two.

5'11". Though I was probably wearing army boots that gave me an inch and a half and he was definitely wearing flat-footed loafers. Clearly this was early on in the "shooting in Vancouver" thing because you shouldn't wear flat-footed loafers in a city in the middle of a rainforest. Had a strange wardrobe going on...

Yeah, because I'm 6' even, and again, he couldn't have been shorter than 5'10".

I admit, however, to not paying attention to any height-altering footwear he could possibly have smuggled into the bar.

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I stand corrected. He's the same height as me. Maybe he was slouching, or on the underside of a ramp but I did feel like a giant standing in front of him. I distinctly remember him looking up at me and vice versa. I don't remember a lot from that area of my life but that I do remember. Maybe my influenced mind exaggerated things. I'll go no further...

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Good stuff and very educational. He was in Last Action Hero? I vaguely remember him there. Wasn't he the grim reaper or something?

I'm only familar with his work in X-Men and Lord of the Rings, but this has me wanting to check out more.

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