Being gay has made me a good actor, says Sir Ian McKellen

Updated: Oct 27, 2012, 18:39 PM IST

London: British actor Sir Ian McKellen has said that being gay helped him to hone his talents as an artist because he spent so many years “pretending to be someone else.”

The 73-year-old claimed that the same was true for other British actors of his generation.

Although aware of his sexuality at a young age, McKellen did not officially “come out” until his 40s.

The star of stage and screen now tours secondary schools educating children about equality and promoting a campaign by the Stonewall charity aimed at tackling homophobic bullying.

Speaking to pupils at Acland Burleigh school in north London, the ‘X-Men’ star said that he “always knew” that he was gay but was unable to speak about it.

“There was no Graham Norton on the television at that time, no gay MPs, no-one talking about gay rights on the radio. So I dealt with it my trying to cut that part of myself off, to hide myself, to choke a part of me,” the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

“When you are made to feel you are so wrong for being who you are, that’s what you do.

“I think that’s why so many great British actors are gay - we spent so long pretending to be straight, to be someone else, that eventually we became very good at it,” he added.