WATCH: Ian McKellen Drawn to X-Men Role Because 'Mutants Are Like Gays'
British actor Ian McKellen signed on to portray X-Men villain Magneto once director Bryan Singer drew parallels between mutants' fight for survival and the battle over LGBT equality, the actor revealed in a recent interview with BuzzFeed.
McKellen went on to compare Magneto’s strategy of violence and Professor X's (played by Patrick Stewart, who also participated in the discussion) tactics of assimilation with different approaches queer activists have used to achieve social and legal acceptance.
McKellen also discussed how coming out as a gay man affected his life and career. While originally living a life of quiet acceptance, McKellen decided to publicly announce his sexual orientation after a British law was passed that banned the discussion of LGBT issues, something not dissimilar from Russia's propaganda law. He readily encouraged people living in the closet to talk about their sexuality with their loved ones, and gladly endorsed Ellen Page's recent choice to come out.
Finally, McKellen wished that he’d be remembered most as an out actor: "I often thought my gravestone would say, 'Here lies Gandalf. He came out.' ... Those are two of the proudest achievements that I've got," he noted. "I think I've been a part of the rapid sensible movement towards an understanding that gay people are the same as the rest of you and should be treated equally by the law, by society."