In a recent interview with CNN, openly gay English actor Ian McKellen — best known for portraying Magneto in numerous X-Men films and Gandalf the wizard in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films — called U.S. President Donald Trump “illiterate.” This Ian McKellen Trump comment is just the latest in several criticisms the actor has had for the American president.
McKellen’s recent interview with CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour covered his LGBTQ activism, his knighting by the English monarchy and his feelings on Trump.
When asked about Trump, McKellen replied, “He’s so illiterate. He displays his inadequacies every time he opens his mouth, I’m afraid. And every time he tweets … dictators and leaders have taken advantage of the mass media ever since it was available to them whether it was the radio, advertising and now television or film. And he’s the master of the television, you have to grant him that. … It seems to me, as an outsider, that what he enjoys most in life is not power but fame.”
This is far from the only Ian McKellen Trump comment, though. The famed actor has criticized Trump several times in the past. When asked how he felt about Trump rolling back LGBTQ rights in a July 2017 interview, McKellen replied, “It’s appalling and quite unnecessary and very un-American. The gay rights movement began in America. It began in San Francisco, it began in Stonewall, the city where Donald Trump was born and thrived.”
In January 2017, after participating in the London Women’s March against Trump, McKellen mentioned that “trump” is a British schoolyard slang for farting, and added, “President Breaking Wind has impacted us all; and personally. … The rest of us, including the majority of voters in USA, see through the charade; after all, the schtick is not exactly subtle. But he’s riled us, got under our skin, making us angry and despairing that he should have got through to the final of his show and turned democracy into a TV/Twitter spectacular.”
He continued, “The rest of us cannot let him reign unchallenged. The marches worldwide were a good beginning. Some who fear him say, ‘Give the man a chance.’ OK — he’s started by removing LGBTQ people, climate change and state funding of the arts from POTUS’s website. He’s had his chance.”
McKellen came out at age 49 in a January 1988 BBC radio interview about Clause 28 of the UK’s Local Government Act 1988, a section which prevented “promotion” of homosexuality by British schools and local authorities (effectively banning any materials or speech mentioning LGBTQ people). The law was seen by LGBTQ activists as a step backwards after Britain’s decriminalization of male gayness in 1967.
Ian McKellen was only the second openly gay person to be knighted by English royalty. (The first was novelist Angus Wilson.)