Sir Ian McKellen has gained the distinction of being one of the most well-known actors in the world throughout the years and there’s a good reason for this: he’s really that good. He’s not the most physical of actors and thankfully he hasn’t needed to be for most of his movies since he’s not exactly what you would call an imposing figure or a young man. But what he has done in lieu of being an action star is show people that even if you can’t bang with the big boys on set you can still dominate in a variety of ways through strength of character. It’s easy to see why so many people would defer to him in a big way and not just on screen since he’s been there and done that with a lot of different movies under his belt, with everything from drama to fantasy to science fiction and even some comedic moments thrown in to boot. he’s done quit a bit in his career and it shows.
Here are five of the best movies from his career.
5. Beauty and the Beast
This movie belonged to Emma Watson without a doubt since she exemplified the character of Belle, but you couldn’t possibly discount Ian’s contribution since Cogsworth has been and still is one of the most memorable characters in the movie. In this particular version he didn’t have as much of a presence but he was still someone that was listened to since his position in the castle was still one of great importance. Upon turning back into his human self he became once more a fussy old man that grew far more comedic in his appearance and manner than anything, but it’s still enough to say that he brought a great deal of class to the character.
4. Apt Pupil
This movie shows you that Ian can be downright scary sometimes when he’s discovered to be a former Nazi by his teenage neighbor. The rehashing of the past brings something to life in him that was thought to be long buried as both the student and the former SS member begin to share secrets back and forth about what it was like during the war, and what might happen if his identity were to ever get out. In the end however the student goes on to succeed in school, while the former Nazi gives himself an air embolism once it’s been established that his true identity has been compromised.
3. Gods and Monsters
It’s a shame when greatness has to pass by the wayside in favor of the human condition. James Whale was a veteran and a director and was someone that could inspire many with his work but in his old age he started to slip as his mental faculties were shutting down in a big way, leading to infirmity and eventually depression. When he befriends his gardener, former Marine Clayton Boone, he embarked upon the last part of his life as he not only confessed many lurid details of his past to a reluctant Boone, but tried to find one last bastion of love that Boone simply couldn’t reciprocate. Upon Whale’s suicide Boone had to leave to avoid scandal, but it’s safe to say that their time was never forgotten.
Magneto has taken on a few looks throughout his history in the Marvel universe but few people thought to see him like this. It does make sense though since both he and Professor X were older men and they’ve been connected for a long time in the history of the X-Men. He’s not exactly a physically imposing character, but then he doesn’t need to be when he can control magnetic fields and basically dominate anyone if there’s a bit of metal around. Wolverine, as awesome as he is, is kind of at Magneto’s mercy since his skeleton becomes a huge liability. As far as the acting goes though, he does a pretty good job.
1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
It doesn’t get much better than this since if they’d hired on anyone else to do the part of Gandalf it doesn’t seem as though it would have gone over that well. Ian brought a sense of wonder and humanity to Gandalf that was nothing short of epic considering that the wizard is someone in Tolkien’s story that is likened to many mythological figures. That he’s powerful is obvious, but that he’s capable of being even more powerful becomes even more obvious throughout the trilogy since in the first movie he’s great but he does manage to appear human and fallible. Overall though Gandalf is one of the favorite characters because he doesn’t have the same feel as so many haughty and distracted wizards, he’s a guy that knows how to have fun and yet still get down to business when it’s time.
Ian is one of those actors that you can’t help but see as one of a kind.