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[Have you ever wanted to get married?] It’s never crossed my mind that it’d ever be possible for me. That’s the scar that I and so many others bear—we believed ourselves to be second-rate citizens for so long, the idea of being able to say “This is my husband, these are my children” was not an option. I remember Tom Stoppard saying to me when I came out, “I feel so sorry for you, because you’ll never have children.” These days I would say, “Well, why not, Tom?” But 20 years ago I accepted his judgment.

[Does it trouble you that after becoming one of the great Shakespearean players you’ll probably be remembered as the wizard from a CGI blockbuster?] I’m well aware that when I go, the London Evening Standard billboard is going to say GANDALF DIES. No, it’s fine. Gandalf is a great character, and I ride on the back of his popularity, not the other way around. And you could say I’ve missed out on having kids but I’ve grandfathered so many children through the role.

"I don’t really like being with people my own age for long periods, because all we talk about is our decrepitude, how the world is changing for the worse even though it isn’t. When you grumble about a taxi being dirty, people your own age will absolutely agree with you, whereas younger people say, "You should be so lucky to have a taxi—Iwalk to work!" So I have lots of young friends, who fortunately don’t treat me as a guru, a person that knows all the answers. I’m just one of the gang—trying to get through it, you know?" - Ian McKellen.

8

"When I was 20, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was reading English, which doesn’t prepare you for anything. But I met all these people at Cambridge, such as Peter Cook and David Frost – they were going to be in the business. They did professional work on the weekends. Peter Cook had two revues on in London while he was an undergraduate. So the idea of becoming a professional yourself didn’t seem quite so extraordinary. Then everything fitted into place and it was as if it had been meant all along."