Sir Ian McKellen defends playing 30-year-old Hamlet at the age of 82


‘I never told my mother she can’t be Father Bear because she’s the wrong gender and not an animal!’ Sir Ian McKellen defends playing 30-year-old Hamlet at the age of 82


As Sir Ian McKellan’s Hamlet enters its final weeks at the Theatre Royal Windsor, the veteran actor has defended the decision to portray the titular character at the age of 82.

Shakespeare’s lead character is thought to be around 30-years-old – deciphered by a quote from the play that reads ‘I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years’ – yet the Windsor production of the play is ‘age, gender and colour-blind’.

Sir Ian plays Hamlet 50 years after he first portrayed him as a young man, with Jenny Seagrove, who is 64, portraying his mother Gertrude.

Age-defying: As Sir Ian McKellan’s Hamlet enters its final weeks at the Theatre Royal Windsor, the veteran actor has defended the decision to portray the titular character at the age of 82 [pictured in the role in July]

Speaking on This Morning on Wednesday, the Lord Of The Rings star said: ‘It took me a long time to agree to do it. I’m 82. But it’s only acting!’

Defending the decision further, he went on: ‘When my mother was telling me stories when I was going to sleep when I was about four, I never said, “well mummy you can’t be father bear because you’re the wrong gender and you’re not an animal!”

‘It’s only storytelling!’

He also claimed he feels as young as ever, adding: ‘If I feel I’m 20, somehow the spirit comes through. I know more about how to say the lines than I did 50 years ago. I’m a much better actor than I used to be!’

Sir Ian continued: ‘Fortunately Hamlet is very simple – what could be more simple than To Be Or Not To Be? Words that a four-year-old understands. The expression is so simple, it’s a very available play.’

Speaking on This Morning on Wednesday, the Lord Of The Rings star said: 'It took me a long time to agree to do it. I'm 82. But it's only acting!' [pictured with Phillip Schofield]

Speaking on This Morning on Wednesday, the Lord Of The Rings star said: ‘It took me a long time to agree to do it. I’m 82. But it’s only acting!’ [pictured with Phillip Schofield]

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