Screen and stage legend Ian McKellen is at it again.
The classy, openly gay actor has announced he will again appear in Hamlet in a new ballet production at the Edinburgh Festival Ballet.
The Guardian reports that McKellen, 82, will step back into the role he originally played in his 20s as part of the experimental staging, which will also see him split the role with dancer Johan Christensen. The new production will run about 75 minutes, and feature scenes performed through Shakespeare’s dialogue, as well as told through dance.
Oh, and did we mention that Hamlet is supposed to be in his 20s? The age-blind casting speaks to McKellen’s abilities as an actor. No wonder he’s scored two Oscar nominations in his career.
If McKellen’s recent Hamlet casting doesn’t do enough to announce his perpetual awesomeness, look no further. Just to recap: the man has proven himself on several occasions, both on-screen and off…
“You Shall Not Pass”
McKellen made himself a bonafide screen legend with his performance as the wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings film series. His appearance in the first film granted him a scene opposite a balrog–a fire demon, for those who haven’t seen the film. It also gave him one of the most oft-quoted lines in cinema history: “You. Shall. Not. Pass!”
Streams on HBO Max, Amazon, YouTube & VUDU.
“My Kingdom for a Horse”
Before Lord of the Rings and X-Men made McKellen a household name, the actor won over the Art House crowd with his performance in Richard III. Though the dialogue comes from Shakespeare, director Richard Loncraine reset the story in the 1930s amid a British Civil War. One of the movie’s highlights comes when King Richard (McKellen) struggles to drive a manual-transmission jeep and utters the famous line “My kingdom for a horse.” We’ve had the same thought every time we drive a stick shift.
Streams on The Roku Channel and Tubi.
“Is That What They Say?”
We’d be remiss not to note McKellen’s indelible turn as the nefarious Magneto in the X-Men film series. In movies full of memorable moments, our minds spring to a scene in X2 involving Magneto “seducing” the young Pyro (Aaron Sanford). When Pyro tells him the X-Men call him the “bad guy,” Magneto simply oozes “Is that what they say?” Somehow, that makes us love him all the more.
Streams on Amazon, Disney+, YouTube & VUDU.
“What Do You Want?”
For McKellen–and indeed, acting–at his finest, look no further than the actor’s Oscar-nominated turn in Gods and Monsters. One scene in particular still gets under our skin. McKellen, as ailing film director James Whale, confronts his gardener Clay (Brendan Fraser) over Clay’s interest in an older gay man. Whale, in near hysterics, begs his gardener “What do you want?” It still makes us choke up every time.
Streams on YouTube.
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
McKellen first shot to stardom on the British stage, courtesy of his performance in the title role of Macbeth, opposite Judi Dench. The production proved so successful the BBC committed it to film. Watch it now to see two great actors at the top of their power, particularly McKellen’s delivery of the famous “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech. It shows Macbeth confronting living a life filled with guilt. It also shows McKellen’s power on the stage.
Streams on YouTube.