Sir Ian McKellen has shared that his greatest regret in life was not coming out to his parents.
McKellen was recently a guest on podcast David Tennant Does A Podcast With, and opened up about how he wished he could have told his parents – Denis and Margery – that he was gay before they passed away.
“It’s the greatest regret of my life that I didn’t tell them,” McKellen lamented.
“My mother died when I was 12 and my father when I was 24, so I didn’t talk to either of them about it.”
McKellen also explained why he was hesitant about opening up to them about his sexuality at the time, but said he’d like to think they would have accepted him.
“What my parents believed in was a Christian view of the world, a non-conformist view of the world in which people cared about each other, whether they knew them or not,” he said.
“They believed that people should always be treated with respect and sympathy, which is why I think if I had come out to my parents it might’ve been a surprise and a shock to them, but they would have accepted it.
“That’s what I like to think.”
He also admitted that he was first aware of his sexuality at the age of 12.
“Yes. I remember a boy I was in love with at school,” he said.
“I went through a heterosexual phase when I was about 11, but that was the last time.”
Coming out as a gay man at the age of 48, McKellen said he understands the pressures faced by fellow LGBTIQ actors in the industry but urged them to come out and live openly.
He said he does not see the point in “living a lie” just for the sake of having a career.
“I feel sorry for them. I know they’d be happier if they did. What’s so important about acting that you’d live a lie?” he said.
“How could being successful as an actor be compensation for that?”
In celebration of his upcoming 80th birthday, McKellen will embark on a series of shows in the United Kingdom called Ian McKellen on Stage: With Tolkien, Shakespeare, Others and You.