Ian McKellen issues apology over controversial remarks about Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer

"I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality they wouldn't abuse others. That, of course, is wrong."

Ian McKellen has issued an apology after remarks he made earlier this week about the alleged acts of sexual abuse carried out by Kevin Spacey and director Bryan Singer.

Speaking during a live recording of the #QueerAF podcast, McKellen suggested that the offences occurred because both men weren’t open about their sexuality at the time of the alleged acts.

“Most of them were in the closet. Hence, all their problems as people and their relationship with other people,” he said. “If they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’ve been accused.”

Now, McKellen has issued a lengthy apology after the remarks promoted a backlash. McKellen wrote: “As part of an extended podcast recently, I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality they wouldn’t abuse others. That, of course, is wrong.”

He continued: “My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing, to be proud and open about their sexuality. In doing so, my point was clumsily expressed. I would never, ever trivialise or condone abuse of any kind.”

He added: “I deeply regret my careless remarks and apologise unreservedly for any distress I caused. When it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear. The accusers must be heard and the accused given the opportunity to clear their names. If the accusations prove credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed.”

Spacey was first accused of abusing Star Trek actor Anthony Rapp as a child in October 2017, before multiple others came forward to level similar claims against the actor. At the time of the first allegation by Rapp, Spacey claimed that he did not remember the incident and said he was “now living as a gay man”. While he currently faces prosecution, Spacey has denied all the claims.

Singer, who is openly bisexual, was the subject of a damning investigation in The Atlantic which alleged that he partook in underage sex with four boys. He has also denied all wrongdoing and described the article as a “homophobic smear piece.”

McKellen’s comments came during an interview with BBC presenter Evan Davis. During the conversation, McKellen also said that the #MeToo movement had made him fearful of facing sexual misconduct allegations himself.

He said: “Well frankly, I’m waiting for someone to accuse me of something, and me wondering whether they’re not telling the truth and me having forgotten.”

He also said that it was “debatable” whether Singer and Spacey should stop working in light of the allegations. “Whether they should be forced to stop working, that’s debatable,” he said.

“I rather think that’s up to the public. Do you want to see someone who has been accused of something that you don’t approve of again? If the answer’s no, then you won’t buy a ticket, you won’t turn on the television. But there may be others for who that’s not a consideration. And it’s difficult to be exactly black and white.”

Last month, Singer’s BAFTA nomination for Bohemian Rhapsody was suspended in light of the allegations he faces.