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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 296 > REBEL WITH OUT A CLAUSE

REBEL WITH OUT A CLAUSE

Thirty years ago, during an interview with the BBC, Ian McKellen came out — partly in opposition to the hated Clause 28. In a new documentary film, he looks back on that event, his life on stage and screen, and as a gay rights activist
Ian wears shirt by Massimo Alba at MR PORTER, trousers by Altea at Matches Fashion, scarf by Unconditional, shoes by Christian Louboutin, socks, Ian’s own

There is a special piece of archive footage woven into the fabulous Ian McKellen documentary Playing the Part in which no gay man has ever looked happier. Sir Ian — then plain old Ian – is seen walking on to the stage at the 1981 Tony Awards in New York to collect his best actor trophy for Amadeus. McKellen was a sprightly 41 and at the peak of his stage powers.

Playing the Part works as a reminder of what a tremendous success Sir Ian has made of his professional life. There is a spring in his step on his journey up to the stage. He’s grinning from ear to ear.

“For an actor to be starring in a hit show on Broadway,” he recollects now, “is just about as good as it gets. In New York there is no royalty. There is no Queen. Yes, there are the sports stars. But mostly there is the theatre.”

McKellen was not born to a fancy life. His early years were in Wigan, then Bolton — hardly post codes filled with gin-sipping bourgeois darlings bound for Manhattan theatre-land. His entry into the lofty educational porthole of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, as pointed out in one re-enacted flashback sequence in the film, was squarely based on impressing a crusty old don at interview with his rendition of the “Once more unto the breach…” monologue from Shakespeare’s Henry V.

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Troye Sivan and Ian McKellen on the cover! Inside: our all-new look and design featuring Trixie Mattel, Andrew Haigh, Jiggly Caliente, Anthony Varrecchia, and Jeffrey Bowyer Chapman.