Sir Ian McKellen: ‘If you can do Shakespeare, you’re a proper actor’

Sir Ian McKellen: ‘If you can do Shakespeare, you’re a proper actor’

Sir Ian McKellen with Yasmeen Khan

Friday, April 22, 2016

Legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen claims the mark of a proper actor is being able to perform in a Shakespeare play.

The acting Knight, who has won numerous awards in a career spanning more than 50 years, started by performing in the Bard's plays. He recently praised the playwright as being "relatable to all" during the launch of a new app, Heuristic Shakespeare – The Tempest.

"Shakespeare is the most famous Englishman who ever lived,” he told Yasmeen Khan. “He’s of the brand, he’s such an icon. The relationship between good acting and Shakespeare is an important one, I think. If you can do Shakespeare, you’re a proper actor.”

The new app aims to teach users by giving them a chance to see a professional cast performing The Tempest - McKellen himself will be playing Prospero. He believes, however, teaching the plays isn’t always possible.

“I’d be tempted to say you can’t teach Shakespeare,’ he admitted. “I don’t know how you do it.

“He wrote those plays to tell us something about ourselves, to expand our experience. That’s what it’s all about, you can’t study it very easily.”

While he has doubts over its ability to properly educate about Shakespeare, McKellen does hope the app will build an audience for his plays in the future.

“No audience, no point in me turning up. If I can get a few more people to realise they’re missing out, I’m doing them a good turn.”