“Some will see two classical actors like Derek and I turning up in a sitcom, letting our hair down a bit, playing for laughs and wanting to entertain, and that can be a little unsettling to some people’s preconceptions.”
[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.