Ian McKellen apologized for comments he made regarding allegations of sexual abuse and the rise of the #MeToo movement.
McKellen appeared on the #QueerAF podcast at the National Student Pride 2019 event held in London last week (23 February).
Broadcaster Evan Davis asked him at the time: ‘The last year… #MeToo has exploded. Allegations all over the place about all sorts of people. Your world – film, theatre – affected more than any other scene.
‘It must be pretty depressing when you pick up your newspaper and you see people you’ve worked with – Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey – you see allegations swirling around. I just wonder what your reaction is when you see this unleashed on the world in the last 18 months,’ Davis asked.
McKellen responded: ‘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 [points to his head] you know.
The 79-year-old actor then added: ‘But with the couple of names you’ve mentioned, people I’ve worked with, both of them were in the closet.
‘And hence all their problems as people and their relationships with other people, 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,’ McKellen said.
You can watch the full video here, or the comments in question appear around 28:00
The comments initially went under the radar, but then started making traction online in the last couple of days.
Ian McKellen responds to backlash
Ian McKellen posted to his Twitter page this morning (2 March) to address the ‘careless remarks’.
He said in a statement: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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,’ he said.
1/4 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. pic.twitter.com/9k6KLH2hx9
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) March 2, 2019
The comments come about after Bryan Singer, who is a frequent director of the X-Men films where McKellen played villain Magneto, was accused by four men of sexual misconduct in The Atlantic’s investigative report. He’s denied all the allegations.
Kevin Spacey has also faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. He is about to face trial for the alleged sexual assault of the son of Boston news anchor, Heather Unruh’s son, Will. Spacey has also denied the allegations.