Ian McKellen Biography

Updated On Jul 19, 2018 Published On Aug 21, 2015
Facts of Ian McKellen
Date of Birth: 1939 , May-25
Birth Nation: United Kingdom
Height: 5 Feet 11 Inch
Name Ian McKellen
Birth Name Sir Ian Murray McKellen
Father Denis Murray McKellen
Mother Margery Lois Sutcliffe
Nationality British
Birth Place/City Burnley
Ethnicity White
Profession Actor
Working For Movies
Net Worth $ 55 million dollar
Salary N/A
Eye Color Blue
Hair Color Grey
Affair with Brian Taylor (1964–1972) ,Sean Mathias (1978–1988)
Married No
Married to Brian Taylor (1964–1972) ,Sean Mathias (1978–1988)
Children N/A
Divorce No
Education St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Movies X-Men: Days of Future Past
TV Show Vicious, Coronation Street
Siblings Jean McKellen
View moreless Facts of Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen is an English actor best known for his role of the titular King in Richard III (1995), James Whale in Gods and Monsters (1998), Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. 79-year-old regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors was appointed as the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1979 Birthday Honours.

Ian McKellen was born as Sir Ian Murray McKellen on May 25, 1939, in Burnley, Lancashire to Margery Lois and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He has one sister, Jean; she is five years older than him. With the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, his family moved to Wigan. They lived there until the war ended. His early childhood days were almost spent there. He was enrolled at the Bolton School (Boys' Division). He attended there regularly to talk to pupils. His acting career started at Bolton Little Theatre, of which he is now the patron.

The graduate in English with a 2:2 from Cambridge University, McKellen made his professional appearance in 1961 at the Belgrade Theatre, then got a chance to perform in Royal Theatre. 

In 1969, he inaugurated his film career with his role of George Matthews in A Touch of Love, followed by his first leading role was as D. H. Lawrence in Priest of Love in 1980. The nominee of BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work in the review of the film, The Washington Post, McKellen was cast as the comic villain Magneto in 1999 in the 2000 film X-Menand its sequels X2: X-Men United (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) alongside the actors like Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Kesley Grammer and many others.

Also, the Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, McKellen hosted Saturday Night Live on March 6, 2002. He is a 2 times Oscar, 4 BAFTA and 5 times Emmy Awards nominee.

 In 2013, McKellen co-starred Derek Jacobi in the ITV sitcom Vicious as Freddie Thornhill and in 2015 drama The Dresser alongside Edward Fox and Emily Watson.

With his professional career of 59 years, Ian McKellen has earned a massive fame and huge bundles of money. His net worth as of 2018 is estimated to be over $55 million. For his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, he earned $5 million while the X-Men series earned him over $20 million in total. 

Though he has kept his property details undisclosed, he reportedly owns million dollars mansion in London.

Besides, huge earnings, he has also earned the honors of 6 Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, 2 Saturn Awards, 4 Drama Desk Awards, and 2 Critics' Choice Awards.

Ian who is claimed to be homosexual is not married yet. It is reported that when Ian was 18, he was desperately in love with Sir Derek Jacobi while in St. Catharine's College, University of Cambridge.

However, later in 1964, he began dating his partner, in Brian Taylor, a history teacher from Bolton. Their relationship ended after 8 years in 1972. In 1978 he began dating, Sean Mathias whom he met at the Edinburgh Festival. Their relationship lasted for about 10 years.

In early 2013, he was appointed as the minister of the Universal Life Church for the wedding his friend and X-Men co-star Patrick Stewart to the singer Sunny Ozell.

As for a fact, in 2006, Ian McKellen was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Besides being an actor, he is also a Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford.

Ian McKellen facts on timeline

Born in Burnley, Lancashire

May 25 , 1939

Ian was born in a middle class family. He was born in Burnley, Lancashire to Margery Lois and Denis Murray McKellen, and a civil engineer. He has one sister, Jean; she is five years older than him. With the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, his family moved to Wigan. They lived there until the war ended. 

Began dating Brian Taylor


Ian is not married yet. He began dating his partner, Brian Taylor, a history teacher from Bolton, in 1964. They had a romantic relationship for about eight years. While they were together, they lived in London. 

Broke up with Brian Taylor


Ian dated Brian Taylor for about eight years. It was believed that they were really having a romantic relationship and they were about to be engaged. But in 1972, something bad happened and they finally ended their relationship.

Began dating Sean Mathias


In 1978 he began dating his second partner, Sean Mathias. He met him at the Edinburgh Festival. Their relationship lasted for about a decade. But they had the sad news about their relationship in 1988. They end their relationship because of their career level difference.

Broke up with Sean Mathias


Ian dated Sean Mathias for about a decade. Though this relationship lasted for a decade, they had problems from the start of their relationship. According to his girlfriend, Mathias, this ten-year love affair really hard, it was full of conflict with McKellen's success in acting versus Mathias's somewhat less-successful career.

Won scholarship to St Catharine's College


From his childhood days, he has demonstrated some extra quality. When he was 18 years old, he won a scholarship to St Catharine's College, Cambridge. There he read English literature and graduated from there some years later.

Began his career in earnest


Soon after completing his education, he began his theater career in earnest. He played the role of Maggie Smith's son in Richard III but he is less than five years her junior in real life. He was also offered the role of King Charles VI of France in Henry V but he denied it and Paul Scofield played that role.

Talked about homosexuality


Only few people knew of his homosexuality; he saw no reason to go public, nor had he told his family. His family members were not interested in the subject and so he saw no reason to bring it up. But in 1988, Ian publicly came out of the closet on the BBC Radio 4 program and discussed Margaret Thatcher's "section 28" legislation which would make the "public promotion of homosexuality" a crime.

Won Golden Globes, USA


Ian won Golden Globes, USA, for the first time in 1997. He was nominated in this award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV. 

Won Academy of Science Fiction


McKellen won Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and USA for Best Supporting Actor in 1999. He also won this award in 2002 for the same category but this time it was for his role in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Won Annie Awards


Ian is a very talented individual. In 2007, he won Annie Awards for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. It was his first nomination in this awards and he won it the same it but in the following years he claimed other awards but he was not nominated in this award then.

Won Awards Circuit Community Awards


2001 was also a bit lucky year for him. He won Awards Circuit Community Awards in 2001 for Best Cast Ensemble. He was also nominated in this award the following year but it is 2003 when he claimed this award for the second time.



In 2013, Ian won Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) award. This award is awarded to an actor or performer whose exemplary career is marked by character, wisdom and wit. And he won it because he is the one.

Won Genie Awards


In 2005, McKellen won Genie Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. He was honored by this award for his fantastic performance in Emile 2003. He won this award for the first time.

Won Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards


In 2002, he also won Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Acting Ensemble. He was also honored by this award the next year in the same category. In 2004, he again was nominated in this award but this time he was not lucky enough like before.

Won Screen Actors Guild Awards


Ian won Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2004 for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. He was also honored with this award in 2002 and it was for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.

Awarded with CBE


Ian has given lots of thing to the world from his acting in mover as well as in drama. So, in return of this he was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1979 for his services to drama.

Honored by Laurence Olivier Theatre Award


In 1985, he was honored by the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award (1984 season) for Best Actor in a Revival for "Wild Honey". He was also honored with this award in 1991 (1990 season) for Best Actor in "Richard III" at the Royal National Theatre.

Listed in the 100 most powerful people in British


He has not just won some prestigious awards in his life. In 2008, he was ranked 45th in the 2008 Telegraph's list "the 100 most powerful people in British culture". It like there is no award he has won or listed in.

Honored by University of Ulster

February 3 , 2013

Ian received almost all honors through his acting career. On February 3, 2013, University of Ulster also honored him and provided him an honorary doctorate. On 18 June 2014, Cambridge University also awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Letters.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer


December of 2012 was really a sad day for all his fan followers. Someday in December, he reveled that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he stated on his blog that "There is no cause for alarm. I am examined regularly and the cancer is contained. I've not needed any treatment."

Honored by British Empire


Throughout his life, he is actively involved in acting in movies and also in dramas. In 1990, he was honored by the British Empire. They awarded him the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in 1990 for his services to drama.