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A Knight Out

Sir Ian McKellen on rings, Shakespeare and the World Wide Web

Sir Ian McKellen, the picture of sophisticated languor, lounged among the jeroboams in the wine room of San Jose's Fairmont Grill conducting interviews, having just slain an audience during his surprise visit at the closing day of Cinequest.

McKellen, best loved as the martyred magus Gandalf the Grey, is on the shortlist for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In answer to the obvious question about its sequel, The Two Towers, he confessed, "I haven't seen it yet, nor has anybody else. Peter Jackson's still editing it, and the digitaliziation will be more considerable this time, because the character Gollum is all in the computer. Plus, we'll have to redub the film. The studio, which wasn't soundproofed, was right next door to the international airport in Wellington."

Sir Ian McKellen

Those allergic to hobbits, preferring McKellen's marvels as a Shakesperean, may note that he has prepared a script for a version of The Merchant of Venice. In it, Antonio (who is the title character, not Shylock) will be openly gay. "I've seen that aspect brought out in a stage production," McKellen said. "It would merit attention in a film because it would prove what everyone ought to know about Shakespeare--that he's eternally relevant not only for the lives of the people he wrote the plays for, but for our lives."

McKellen isn't unaccustomed to modern wizardry, either. His website, Mckellen.com, received, he avows, 12 million hits in January. Of the site, the theatrical knight quipped, "I thought it was a good alternative to writing an autobiography. If anyone's interested, they can dip in without me guiding them." And the site spares him the effort of writing his memoirs, "which I might find painful to write, and I'm pretty certain that no one would read."

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Web extra to the February 28-March 6, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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