(Stephanie Rafanelli’s article appeared in the Evening Standard, 9/1; via Pam Green.)
Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen sit in two identical velvet thrones — the stately King and King of British theatre — every now and then reaching between them to tenderly clasp one another’s hand in the way that couples do. It’s a hot summer’s day; I meet them in McKellen’s airy townhouse overlooking the Thames at Limehouse after rehearsals for their new West End production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land. The scene off stage now has a different register: something akin to if they were cast in a tender romance.
‘I know that I’m in a love affair with Ian,’ Stewart declaims, statesman-like and pit-bull trim in a white shirt and snug J-Brand jeans, after a sip of Sancerre. Next to him, McKellen — sinewy, artfully dishevelled in a grandad shirt and silk pashmina — waves a glass of lemon vodka in the air. ‘What I love about Patrick is that he’s so predictably myself. I think we are the same person. If Patrick comes into a rehearsal room and says, “Look, look…” I know what it’s going to be about.’ He pats Stewart’s arm affectionately and says to him: ‘So it’s actually because you’re a narcissist and who you’re in love with is yourself,’ adding, as an aside, ‘Mind you, I think Derek Jacobi is trying to be the third at the party.’ Stewart laughs, his chest a big booming speaker.