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Throwback Thursday: Sir Ian McKellen Jumps From Stage To Big Screen

By Stacy Lambe

Photo: Jesse Frohman

Even though to many young fans, Sir Ian McKellen may only be known as Magneto or Gandalf the Grey, there was a time when he was regarded more for his stage work than his blockbuster films.

In 1993, after winning an Olivier Award for Richard III and being knighted by the Queen, McKellen turned his attention to the big screen. With roles in Six Degrees of Separation alongside Stockard Channing and Will Smith, and as Death in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero, he quickly became a multifaceted entertainer tackling both drama and action.

By September of 1993, McKellen landed on the cover of Out's fall fashion issue, as one of Hollywood's prominent openly gay actors.

"Any gay or lesbian who comes out is peforming a political act, but it's also a highly personal act," the actor said at the time. "I wouldn't want to be thought of as just a gay actor. But don't misunderstand me. I'm totally in favor of everybody coming out. Nothing would make the world better."

SLIDESHOW | Covers of 1993

Within a few years of the issue, McKellen earned accolades for roles in the film adaptation of Richard III and Gods and Monsters and eventually became the longstanding villian in the X-Men franchise.

But his feelings about coming out never changed. As recently as February of this year, in an interview with BuzzFeed, McKellen echoed the same sentiments as he did in '93.

"Anyone in public life who comes out, comes out primarily for themselves, and their life is immediately improved. That’s what happened to me ... So, my advice to anyone in the closet — it doesn’t matter whether they’re a teacher, or a politician, or a priest, or an actor — come out. Join the human race."

Revisit more classic photos.

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