Sir Ian McKellan, star of ‘Lord of The Rings’ and ‘X-Men’ franchises, says he signed up to play Magneto in Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men’ films after the director pitched the plight of the mutants as an “allegory for the gay community”.
“I was sold it by Bryan who said, ‘Mutants are like gays. They’re cast out by society for no good reason,’” he explained to Buzzfeed.
[Watch: Sir Ian McKellen argues with Andy Serkis on 'The Hobbit' set]
“And, as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Are they going to take the Xavier [Stewart’s character] line — which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody — or are you going to take the alternative view — which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights."
"And that’s true. I’ve come across that division within the gay rights movement.”
The 74-year-old, who is an active LGBT rights campaigner, “came out" in 1988 after a high-profile “anti-gay" law was introduced in Britain, despite never hiding his sexuality.
“I had a series of partners and we went everywhere together and we were accepted, living in London in the ’60s and ’70s, but never making a fuss, never dreaming that we might get married, never dreaming we could have a civil partnership, never dreaming that, should we want to, we could serve in the military,” McKellen revealed.
"There we certain things we weren’t allowed to do and I’m afraid I rather went along with that because I was having a rather good time being an actor.”
“But I realised my position was not a sensible one. I realised what I had to do was ‘come out’.”
He went on to praise 'X-Men' co-star Ellen Page who recently came out in an emotional speech at a Human Rights Convention earlier this month.
[The Guardian mistakenly "outs" Patrick Stewart]
“Marvel told me that the demographic for the readership of the comics is young blacks, young jews, and young gays. These are all young people who feel a little bit like mutants, so they sympathise with [the X-Men] and want them to thrive and do well.”
“And all this has come to a happy conclusion hasn’t it, with Ellen Page coming out. That gladdened my heart so much.”
Sir Ian McKellen returns as Magneto in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ which is out May 22, 2014.