Ian McKellen says film industry ‘disregards’ gay people too

Veteran actor asks why no openly gay man has ever won an Oscar

Ian McKellen has shared his thoughts on the ongoing debate about diversity in Hollywood, arguing that gay people are “disregarded” by the film industry too.

Responding to widespread criticism of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the organisation behind the Oscars, after it failed to nominate a single non-white actor this year, McKellen told Sky News: “As a representative of the industry they’re in, it’s receiving complaints which I fully sympathise with.

“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,” he continued. “And these are all legitimate complaints and the Oscars are the focus of those complaints of course.”

McKellen also discussed with the issue with The Guardian, saying: “No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar [for acting]; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance.”

Referring to the two times he has been nominated for an Oscar, but failed to win, McKellen added: “My speech has been in two jackets… ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar’. [But] I’ve had to put it back in my pocket twice.”

In the past, the Oscars have rewarded heterosexual actors including Sean Penn, Tom Hanks and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman for playing gay characters. “How clever, how clever,” McKellen said of this. “What about giving me one for playing a straight man?”

McKellen was nominated for Best Actor in 1998 for his performance in Gods And Monsters, then for Best Supporting Actor in 2001 for Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.