Baz [Luhrmann] paid me one of the greatest compliments ever. I don't know him, really, but when I first met him I was congratulating him on ROMEO + JULIET - which I think is a wonderful adaptation - and he said, "Oh, well we couldn't have done it without your RICHARD III, which was an inspiration!" I've never quite checked up on the dates to see whether or if, in fact, we did our film before he did his.
I've played an awful lot of people that other people would call villains, but that isn't a very helpful attitude to have if you're about to play them. They are just people, and they may do dreadful things and say dreadful things, but your job as an actor is to know why they do them or say them.
I've always longed for the theatre and acting to be popular. No actor wants to play to an empty house. We only do it for an audience. The more the merrier. I don't make any distinction between a popular TV series or blockbuster film and doing Shakespeare. They're different, but as long as the material is good and the intention is honourable, it's all the same to me.
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A few years ago, a friend said to me: "You do realize, Ian, when X-Men and Lord of the Rings come out, your life will totally change?" I didn't know what he was talking about, but he was right. My life has totally changed - but in a good way. Unbeknownst to me, it's given me a lot more confidence.
The demographic of our audience is young. It also contains a high proportion of black, Jewish and gay people, who have all been encouraged by society to think of themselves as oddities or mutants. I hope that's why X-Men chimes with them - it's certainly why I was attracted to the idea in the first place.
When we'd suggested doing it, the Theatre Royal management had said, 'Nobody wants to see Waiting for Godot.' As it happened, every single ticket was booked for every single performance, and this confirmation that our judgment was right was sweet. Audiences came to us from all over the world. It was amazing.
I have never wanted to be typecast, one of those actors who plays a variation on a one-note theme. So just as I enjoy playing a wide variety of characters, from good to bad to ugly to cute - so I have enjoyed of late working in film and television, as well as in theatres of various sizes and shapes.
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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.
I think it's one thing to declare your sexuality, if you care about what that is. It's another thing to start talking in public about what you do in private and who you do it with. It's not that they [my significant others] don't want to be identified as gay, but that they don't want to be identified as ... with me.
My memory of 3D movies is Fernando Lamas in a swashbuckling movie. And I suppose it had been the fifties, in which swords came out at you, bullets came out at you, things were thrown into the auditorium, apparently. All that sort of cheap, "Oh, look at us, we've got 3D" isn't in the film.
Quite low down in the list is "How much am I going to be paid?"... my main feeling about money is that I don't want to feel as though I'm being taken advantage of... The other actors they asked to play Gandalf wouldn't go to New Zealand on that money for that length of time. I thought it would be a bit of an adventure... I'm an eccentric actor, and there's a lot of us around.
There are directors, and I think this is true of all directors, it would be true if I was a director - If the actor didn't want to do what I was suggesting, I would let him do it his way, and then I would say to him, "Just give me one where you do what the director wants", and that, of course, is the take that's used.
I have been reluctant to lobby on other issues I most care about - nuclear weapons (against), religion (atheist), capital punishment (anti), AIDS (fund-raiser) because I don't want to be forever spouting, diluting the impact of addressing my most urgent concern - legal and social equality for gay people worldwide.
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I tend to discourage people from calling me 'Sir Ian,' because I don't like being separated out from the rest of the population. Of course, it can be useful if you're writing an official letter, like trying to get a visa or something passed through Parliament. They're impressed by these things.