In his decades-long playing career, Ian McKellen has named the “worst moviemaking experience” he has ever gone through. The 84-year-old British actor has over 100 TV and film credits to his name from his more than 60 years of playing, but he is perhaps best known for his famous portrayal of wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series. He claims that his “worst moviemaking experience” was playing the lead in Michael Mann’s war thriller The Keep from 1983.
In a recent interview with Variety, McKellen recounted, “Michael Mann said to me, ‘You’re playing this Romanian.’ So I went to Romania to scout it out, and I learned how to speak with a Romanian accent. Then on the first day of shooting, Michael told me he wanted me to speak with a Chicago accent. Well, I couldn’t do that, and it got worse from there.”
The Keep, which featured McKellen, Scott Glenn (The Silence of the Lambs), and Gabriel Byrne as Nazi forces who built up camp in Romania during World War II, told the tale of how they unleashed a terrible power. The actor’s upcoming role is in The Critic, a historical thriller directed by Anand Tucker that has its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. Ben Barnes, Alfred Enoch, Mark Strong, and Gemma Arterton are also included.
IMDb describes the film “The Critic is a story of ambition, blackmail, and desire with a dazzling anti-hero at its dark heart. A whodunnit wrapped in a Faustian pact which winds tighter and tighter,” McKellen sneered when asked by Variety about the idea of retiring: “Retire to do what?
“I’ve never been out of work, but I’m aware that any minute now something could happen to me which could prevent me from ever working again,” he said. “But while the knees hold up and the memory remains intact, why shouldn’t I carry on? I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now.”