Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Did You Get To Ask Sir Ian McKellen Anything?

Despite the recent drama, reddit ("the front page of the internet") has become famous for what it calls the AMA ("ask me anything") segment where they frequently score impressive celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama. I sometimes check the upcoming schedule to see if there's anybody worth camping out and waiting for, but rarely do I remember to do anything about it. They typically last an hour, and you usually have to post your question well ahead of time to get it seen above the noise, so if you're not on top of your game you'll miss it.

So imagine my surprise when I checked this afternoon to see that Sir Ian McKellen had done one and I missed it!  Obviously he was there to promote his new Mr. Holmes movie, but the name of the game in the AMA is that the audience can ask him anything, and it's always fun to see which questions they will answer.

Naturally I went scanning for Shakespeare questions, and spoiler alert, I'm quite disappointed with how few there were.  Reddit seems primarily interested in Gandalf, advice for LGBT youth, and memories of Christopher Lee.  Oh, well.

"I met Patrick in Stratford-upon-Avon when we were both working in the theatre there doing Shakespeare. In about 1976."   

(Note, a number of people asked the same question.)

Have you talked to Michael Fassbender (your younger Magneto self) in regards to him playing MacBeth?
"No I have not talked to Michael about McBeth, and don't expect to. He's giving his own performance and I think it might be confusing.

You don't want to be bothered with what someone else did. You want to do your own performance."

I wish I'd been in that conversation, because Patrick Stewart is on video many times telling the story about the advice that Sir Ian gave him for his version of Macbeth. I hate to call the man out, but perhaps it's a case of him politely saying that he just doesn't know Michael Fassbender as well as he knows Patrick Stewart.

Is there a character that you'd like to play before you retire from acting?
"Perhaps Antonio, in The Merchant of Venice, because he is one of the very few obviously gay characters in Shakespeare."

Have you ever had bad luck when saying the title of the Scottish Play?
"No. Macbeth! [shout it loudly] was a lucky play for me. As I was in a wonderful production with amazing cast. But I am careful not to mention the play, or quote it, in the dressing room as other actors can get nervous."

I may have missed a few, but this unfortunately is about it. Among AMAs I have to say it's a relatively poor one, he does not answer many questions and those that do float to the top are all variations on the same idea - advice for LGBT youth, stories about Patrick Stewart or Lord of the Rings, what got you inspired to act, etc...    He may also suffer from the recent shakeup in AMA management at Reddit, where they fired the people who used to babysit the celebrities through the process.

I wish I'd been there to see it, but honestly I don't know what I would have asked. If you got the chance to ask Sir Ian McKellen a question that he stood a very good chance to actually see and choose to answer, what would you ask?


Elizabeth R said...

Wait, Antonio in Merchant of Venice is "obviously gay"? How did I miss that one?

Duane Morin said...

If that drives you crazy, check out the original context from 2012 where he even suggests (perhaps with tongue in cheek) that Shakespeare was gay as well :)