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Sir Ian McKellen & Sir Derek Jacobi Get Vicious

“I’ve had enough of being a gay icon! I’ve had enough of all this hard work, because, since I came out, I keep getting all these parts, and my career’s taken off. I want a quiet life. I’m going back into the closet. But I can’t get back into the closet, because it’s absolutely jam-packed full of other actors.”

Sir Ian McKellen on being a role model

“I’ve now been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. We just went to the registry office, signed a bit of paper and it was all over. We didn`t have a big party, but we had twenty-five friends to lunch. It was very quiet though, all over in a morning”.

Sir Derek Jacobi on his Civil Partnership

This morning, amid all of the election hysteria, I woke to the news that two of the most successful out actors in entertainment history would be collaborating on a new sitcom on ITV.  It made me pee a little with excitement.  Here’s an article about Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi playing a gay couple in Vicious, a brand new ITV comedy – http://gu.com/p/3btkm/em

McKellen:  One of Britain’s finest actors, from Shakespearean splendour to celluloid immortality. The gay-rights activist most recently starred as Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Sir Ian McKellen, knighted in 1991 for his services to the performing arts, is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, having been honoured with more than 40 international awards for his work on stage and screen.

Most recently, he received Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild awards for his outstanding portrayal of Hollywood director, James Whale, in Bill Condon’s ‘Gods And Monsters‘ (1998).

Sir Ian was born in the north of England on 25 May 1939, the son of a civil engineer. He first acted at school and at Cambridge University, where he studied English Literature and appeared in 21 undergraduate productions, before performing in repertory companies.

He gained a reputation for powerful portrayals of characters, from Richard II to Napoleon and Hamlet.

His film career began with ‘The Promise‘, ‘Alfred The Great‘ and ‘Thank You All Very Much‘ all in 1969.

In addition to ‘Gods And Monsters‘ and ‘Richard III‘ (1995), Sir Ian’s numerous credits include ‘Bent‘ (1997), ‘Jack And Sarah‘(1995), ‘Apt Pupil‘ (1998), ‘And The Band Played On‘ (1993), ‘Six Degrees Of Separation‘ (1993), ‘Last Action Hero‘ (1993), ‘X-Men‘ (2000) and ‘Scandal‘ (1989).

Perhaps his biggest role in recent times was that of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s epic trilogy, ‘Lord Of The Rings‘ (2001-2003). He earned an Oscar nomination and an award from the Screen Actors Guild for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his work in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘.

In 2006, he enjoyed huge success as The Da Vinci Code’s Sir Leigh Teabing, a rich and eccentric expert on Holy Grail mythology, who aids colleague Tom Hanks in his attempt to unravel a worldwide conspiracy involving secret Christian sects and albino killers.

He has since voiced Zebedee in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ (2005) and in ‘Doogal‘ in 2006. In 2005, Mckellen tried his hand at soap acting and appeared in ten episodes of ‘Coronation Street‘.

In 2007, he narrated the fantasy film ‘Stardust‘ and lent his voice to ‘The Golden Compass‘ before returning to Shakespeare by acting in the TV movie ‘King Lear‘ as the title character in 2008.

McKellen then appeared in ‘The Academy‘ parts one and two in 2009, which was followed by the miniseries’ The Prisoner‘. After appearing in a series of shorts, McKellen has reprised Gandalf. He is portraying the wizard in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘ in 2012 and ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again‘ in 2013.

This is not the first character that he has returned to as he played Magneto again in ‘X2‘ in 2003 and in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand‘ in 2006.

Sir Ian is a co-founder of the UK pressure group Stonewall, which lobbies for equal legal and social rights for lesbians and gay men in the UK. He famously went for tea at Downing Street to discuss gay rights with then Prime Minister, John Major.

Jacobi: When he was six, Jacobi began to appear in local library and school productions. Thanks to the school’s single sex population, his first roles with the drama club — until his voice broke — were all female.

While at studying history at Cambridge University, Jacobi joined amateur theatrical clubs and would perform in productions, winning plum roles such as Hamlet and Edward II. His stage work at Cambridge was prolific and allowed him to work with classmates Ian McKellen and Trevor Nunn, and thanks to his performance as Edward II, landed him his first job. After graduating in 1960, Jacobi joined the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and made his professional debut in both Shakespeare’s plays and Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons.

Over the next 30 years, Jacobi had some very distinguished roles in the theater such as Touchstone in an all-male As You Like It opposite Anthony Hopkins as Audrey (1967); the title role in Oedipus Rex (1972); Hamlet (1977, 1979); Kean(1990); Macbeth (1993-94); and Uncle Vanya (1996). In 1985, he won a Tony Award for his work in Much Ado About Nothing.

It wasn’t until 1980 that Jacobi ventured across the pond to make his New York stage debut in the short-lived The Suicide.

Jacobi’s film career has been no less intensive. It wasn’t until 1963 when Jacobi was spotted by Laurence Olivier that his film career began. After performing with Olivier on stage and joining the newly formed National Theatre, Jacobi played the part of Cassius to Olivier’s Othello in a production that was filmed in 1965.

He acted in numerous film adaptations of classic plays, including Othello (1965) and The Three Sisters (1970). However, it was through his collaborations with his former student, Kenneth Branagh on various screen adaptations of Shakespeare that he became most visible to an international film audience, appearing as the Chorus in Branagh’s acclaimed 1989 Henry V and as Claudius in the director’s 1996 full-length adaptation of Hamlet.

In 1982, he voiced the character Nicodemus, a wise old rat, in the animated feature The Secret of NIMH and also played Kurt Limmer in Enigma. Jacobi made one of his most memorable screen impressions in Branagh’s Hitchcock-inspired Dead Again (1991) portraying a hypnotist with a very shady background.

During the last decade of the 20th Century, Jacobi played himself in Looking for Richard in 1996 and was Francis Bacon in Love Is the Devil in 1998. Other films include Basil (also 1998), Up at the Villa (1999) and Father Damien (1999). He was also on the short list of actors considered for the role of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.

On the small screen, Jacobi made his debut in the mini-series The Strauss Family as Lanner, but he is perhaps best recalled for his brilliant, award-winning turn as the twitching, stuttering Emperor in the I, Claudius in 1976, for which he won a BAFTA TV Award in 1976 for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

He also appeared as Lord Fawn in The Pallisers (1977); as Guy Burgess in Philby, Burgess and Maclean (1977); King Richard in King Richard the Second (1979); Hamlet in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980); Adolph Hitler in Inside the Third Reich (1982); and Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982) opposite Anthony Hopkins. In 1989, he won an Emmy for his performance in the 1988 adaptation of Graham Greene‘s The Tenth Man, then won a second Emmy in 2001 for “Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series” for playing Jackson Riley on Frasier.

Having received a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1985, in 1994 Jacobi was knighted. Jacobi is one of two actors to hold both Danish and English knighthoods — the other being Sir Laurence Olivier.

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