Sir Ian McKellen criticised for comments about sexual misconduct scandals

Others have claimed the star's remarks were taken out of context

Sir Ian McKellen has been criticised for comments he made about the recent wave of sexual misconduct scandals. However, others have defended the star, claiming his remarks were taken out of context.

The acclaimed actor was giving a talk at Oxford Union recently when he was asked by one audience member about the abuse of power in Hollywood.

“Of course, people taking advantage of their power is utterly reprehensible, wherever it happens,” McKellen replied, adding: “People must be called out and it’s sometimes very difficult for victims to do that.”


“I hope we’re going through a period that will help to eradicate [abuse] altogether,” he said.

McKellen then went on to describe his experiences in the theatre world during the early ’60s, appearing to suggest that some women were willing to have sex with directors in order to secure a role.

He said: “From my own experience, when I was starting acting in the early 1960s, the director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs – they were actors. Some of them had, at the bottom of their photograph, DRR — ‘directors’ rights respected’. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me. That was commonplace from people who proposed that they should be a victim. Madness. People have taken advantage of that and encouraged it and it absolutely will not do.”

“I assume nothing but good will come out of these revelations,” McKellen then added, continuing: “Even though some people get wrongly accused — there’s that side of it as well”.

Following McKellen’s comments, some have since taken to social media to criticise the star. One Twitter user wrote: “Sir Ian McKellen doesn’t know the difference between consent, coercion and rape. He needs to shut his stupid mouth.”

Another said: “Man, if Patrick Stewart doesn’t take Ian McKellen aside and have a good talk, bro to bro, about what the fuck rape culture is…”


“Sad to report Sir Ian McKellen is cancelled,” another tweet read, before the user continued: “Turning blame onto women who were most likely encouraged by their management that the only way to get roles was to sleep with a director is still shitty?”.

However, others have defended McKellen by claiming that his comments were taken out of context in the press. The Daily Mail ran the story with the headline “Women are partly to blame for showbiz sex scandal, says Sir Ian McKellen”.

You can watch McKellen discussing the Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals from the 41 minute mark below:

McKellen also addressed the Kevin Spacey allegations during his talk, criticising the actor for coming out as gay during his statement about the initial accusations. McKellen said it was as “reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality.”

  • For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.