McKellen: Playing the Part

PG 92 mins

About the film

Release Date: Sep 27, 2018
Director: Joe Stephenson
At the age of 78, Ian McKellen looks back on his life, both professional and private. He talks of growing up in Wigan and developing a love for the stage, as well as the complicated path he had as a gay man in a changing society and becoming a film star well after he imagined it was possible.


To call this film a documentary would somewhat misrepresent it. It is McKellen’s account of his life, in a long-form interview, with just a few archival clips. No other interviewees. No additional voiceover. It doesn’t need it. McKellen is both a naturally brilliant storyteller and a fascinating story in himself. 

Built around a 14 hour interview, Playing the Part uncovers McKellen's story. From his upbringing living through the war, working through repertory and West End theatre becoming a pioneering stage star, coming out and being a leader in the campaign for equality, to his mainstream film breakouts as Magneto and Gandalf. His work and influence transcends generations, celebrated here in this fully authorised insight.

McKellen: Playing the Part features unprecedented access to private photo albums, a wealth of never-before-seen archive material, including diaries written when he was 12, and unseen behind the scenes of theatre shows and films, alongside his personal thoughts on a life long lived.

"Beguiling," - The Times
"An intimate enthralling look at the life of a legend," - Time Out
"An absolute treat," - Empire Magazine

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