Can’t imagine my life without Shakespeare: Sir Ian McKellen in conversation with Firstpost

Zenia D'Cunha

May,23 2016 18:53 36 IST

Sir Ian McKellen has essayed some of the most iconic literary roles on the big screen - from Gandalf the Grey in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to Sherlock Holmes, and Magneto in X-Men. But in his own words, the roles he's enjoyed doing the most are the ones based on William Shakespeare's stories.

In India for ‘Shakespeare Lives’, a global programme launched by the British Council and GREAT Britain Campaign to celebrate the Bard's works and influence on film, McKellen spoke to Firstpost on the influence of Shakespeare on his life, the universality of his stories and the need for people to discover Shakespeare in film and theatre.

"Shakespeare has been a part of my life since a very early age, when I saw a Shakespeare production. It's been something I have really enjoyed as an audience and subsequently acting. It's not the only sort of acting I'd like to do but I cannot imagine what my life could have been without Shakespeare," he told Firstpost.

Sir Ian McKellen. Image Credit: Screengrab/Firstpost

Sir Ian McKellen. Image Credit: Screengrab/Firstpost

Speaking of 'Shakespeare in Film', one can't not talk about Vishal Bhardwaj, who is often known as 'Bardwaj' for his brilliant translation of the Bard's works in Bollywood. With Maqbool (based on Macbeth) Omkara (based on Othello) and Haider (Based on Hamlet), Bhardwaj has expertly captured the Shakespearean themes in Indian context. Maqbool was based in the Mumbai underworld, Omkara in rural Uttar Pradesh and Haider in 1990s Kashmir. McKellen himself brings up Bhardwaj, saying, "There is not a word of Shakespeare  in Bhardwaj's films but it's to do with themes and with the characters and situations (that make it Shakespearean.)"

From Elizabethen to contemporary settings, theatre to big screen, Britain to India, Shakespeare's works are enduring. Asked about this universal imapct, Mckellen says, "he's like play doh or plasticine — you can just screw him into a ball you can throw him away but he will keep bouncing back."

Watch Ian Mckellen in conversation with Firstpost here.