(Steven MacKenzie’s article appeared on Street Roots News, 3/19; via Pam Green.)
“Shakespeare is more than just plays in the theater,” Sir Ian McKellen said. “I’ve got a little collection of Shakespeare figurines at home. That’s Shakespeare to me. A walk along the Avon is Shakespeare to me. A pub with his name on the sign. Shakespeare is a hydra-headed brand … which I hope you’ll quote. I’m rather pleased with that.”
McKellen is at the launch of the British Film Institute’s Shakespeare on Film season, timed to celebrate 400 years of the Bard’s work (which is a nice way of saying that he died 400 years ago). Although associated most with the stage – obviously – no writer has more film credits. The Internet Movie Database, or IMDb, lists 1,120 titles based on Shakespeare’s work. Among the series of events and films being screened, the undisputed highlight of the BFI’s Bard season will be a bus tour of London locations – including Battersea Power Station and Tate Modern, both used in the 1995 film adaptation of “Richard III,” which its star, McKellen, will host.
Aside from his new job as a tour guide, McKellen is one of the world’s best-loved actors, adored for playing Gandalf in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” and reveling in the role of a malevolent Magneto in the “X-Men” franchise.