A new documentary film about the life and career of acclaimed stage and screen actor Sir Ian McKellen will premiere in select U.S. cinemas June 19. Directed by Joe Stephenson, McKellen: Playing The Part provides unprecedented access to the veteran actor and his private life.
The 96-minute film is constructed from a 14-hour interview with the actor, who offers an unguarded and deeply personal reflection on his life and career. In addition to personal stories behind his triumphs on stage and screen, McKellen also opens up about his childhood, and the discovery of his own gay identity at a very early age.
“What I liked about doing the film is that I was talking on my own terms, with a friend,” McKellen told Playbill. “It wasn’t with a stranger. I had agreed to write my autobiography with a publisher, and I found that I wasn’t enjoying it very much. And it was at that time that Joe Stephenson said to me, ‘Rather than write it, why don’t you just talk it?”
Interspersed throughout is onstage footage of McKellen in some of his greatest stage roles, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at his last Broadway outing, a double bill of Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land, with Patrick Stewart in 2013.
The film’s New York premiere on June 19 at Symphony Space will feature a Q&A with the film’s director. Visit mckellenfilm.com for information on nationwide screenings.
A two-time Oscar nominee—for his performances in Gods and Monsters and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring—McKellen won a Tony Award for his work in Amadeus. His other Broadway credits include The Promise, Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare, Wild Honey, Ian McKellen: A Knight out at the Lyceum, and Dance of Death. He is set to return to King Lear at London’s Duke of York Theatre in July.