McKellen Takes Hollywood to Task over Gay Actors
Jonathan Brown and Thair Shaikh, The Independent (London, England)
Brokeback Mountain, the acclaimed film about two gay cowboys, may be poised to sweep the board at the Oscars this year. But according to one of Britain's most eminent actors, Hollywood is still deeply reluctant to publicly embrace homosexuality and lesbianism.
Sir Ian McKellen, who came out in 1988 and is one of most high- profile openly gay actors, has criticised Tinseltown's power brokers for putting unnecessary pressure on homosexual actors to stay in the closet for the sake of their careers.
The actor said he found it distressing that it was still "very, very, very difficult" for an American actor in the movie business to be honest about his or her sexuality. Speaking at the Berlin International Film Festival, where he was receiving a lifetime achievement award, Sir Ian, 66, was guarded about what impact the success of Ang Lee's portrayal of gay love between two ranch hands would have on future film-makers. He said: "The film industry is very old-fashioned in California. It's very distressing to me that that should be the case."
Sir Ian said that coming out need not hamper an actor's progress. Although renowned for his roles in Shakespeare, he has over the past five decades appeared in a wide range of performances on television, theatre and the cinema.
His roles have included commanding performances in plays such as The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter and more recently a flamboyant dame in Aladdin. He will next appear on the big screen in May alongside Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code, an adaptation of the book by Dan Brown. …