Ian McKellen Says Gay Actors Are ‘Disregarded’ by Hollywood

Ian McKellen Gay Actors in Hollywood
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

As the Academy works to remedy Hollywood’s inclusion issue, Sir Ian McKellen is stressing the need to broaden the definition of the word diversity. McKellen says that gay actors are being “disregarded” and ignored by Hollywood as much as African Americans are.

McKellen, who is the co-founder of the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, said the criticism facing the Academy for the lack of diversity at the Oscars is “legitimate.”

“As a representative of the industry they’re in, it’s receiving complaints which I fully sympathize with,” the 76-year-old actor said while speaking to Sky News. “It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry, it used to be women, it’s certainly gay people to this day. And these are all legitimate complaints and the Oscars are the focus of those complaints, of course.”

He also spoke to The Guardian about the industry’s possible prejudice toward the LBGT community.

“No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance,” he told The Guardian.

“How clever, how clever,” McKellen then said of Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sean Penn winning best actor Oscars for playing gay men. “What about giving me one for playing a straight man?” he asked.

McKellen was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 1999 for “Gods and Monsters” and in 2002 for best supporting actor in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

“My speech has been in two jackets… ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar,'” he said, recalling a line from the speeches. “I’ve had to put it back in my pocket twice.”

The Academy came under fire earlier this month following the Oscar nominations, which excluded people of color from acting categories. This brought the moniker #OscarsSoWhite back for a second time. Many other actors, including George Clooney, Mark Ruffalo, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Steve McQueen, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, have criticized the Academy. Spike Lee announced he wouldn’t be attending the “lily-white Oscars.”

Last Friday, the Academy met to approve a series of changes for voting and recruitment as part of its goal to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.

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  1. Vlad says:

    Lets give Oscar to gays, black people, lesbians, asians, muslims,short people and many other people who feel disregarded. Give Oscar to me – i feel disregarded. Lets not give oscar to actors and directors who deserve it by their work.

  2. Mike says:

    No openly gay actors have won an Oscar? Maybe not but plenty of closeted ones have. Jodie Foster being the most obvious one.

  3. Uh….I cannot think of one performance by an openly gay actor that was DESERVING of an Oscar…there are not many Oscar-calibre openly gay actors out there…so this whole POV is as stupid as the #OscarsSoWhite idiocy.

    And yes, I’m gay….

    However, MANY gay men and women have won Oscars for other things…we see a few gay men get up every year…

  4. Jonathan says:

    He misspoke. No openly gay ACTOR has ever one the Oscar. A number of openly gay men have won.

  5. Alex says:

    Next years “Oscars” are going to be a mess and an unfunny joke.

  6. Audrey says:

    “It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry, it used to be women…” It USED to be women?? I’m afraid we haven’t solved that problem yet. Women represent 50% of the population, so it’s an even bigger question of why they are so underrepresented in categories like directing, cinematography, etc. They are not a minority in the population. In 86 years, only 4 women have been nominated for “best director”. However, this reflects the state of the industry, not an Academy bias. The same can be said for ethnic diversity– you can’t make the Oscars fit an agenda or award films that didn’t necessarily deserve nomination just for the sake of diversity, it has to change first and foremost in the industry.

  7. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    If this is a joke response to the Oscar snub, it doesn’t quite match reality. I don’t see any bias whatsoever. They’ve enjoyed a generation of man boy casting or non masculine leading men. They’re getting all the work. LOL!

  8. therealeverton says:

    He’s had “lifetime achievement” painted onto his carer for some time now. Fantastic actor, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

  9. Still Shakin' My Head says:

    Sir Ian was most assuredly denied his trophy for his brilliant portrayal of James Whale in “Gods And Monsters” on account of bias. How do we know this? They gave the Oscar to hyperactive seat jumper Roberto Benigni instead. Case closed.

    • TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

      So…what other put downs do you have for thespians who are different when your man doesn’t win?

  10. Andres says:

    Viola Davis not criticizing the Oscar, she criticized the film industry for not giving major roles to black actors “can not win Oscars if there are no papers,” she said something like that.

  11. Toad Groan says:

    it’s the victim olympics!

  12. Gays are people. That is a simple concept that is ignored .Hollywood, Ignore it no longer.

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