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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Richard III/Interview with Sir Ian McKellan

Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Richard III at MoPA (MGM/UA)

Listen to clips from my 1995 interview with actor Sir Ian McKellan. I will be showing Richard III Thurs., Sept. 27 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park as part of The Film's the Thing: Shakespeare on The Screen . Festivities, including live performances, begin at 6:30 p.m. with the film starting at 7 p.m.


British actor Sir Ian McKellen first brought his brand of Shakespeare to San Diego in 1987 when he performed his Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theater. He stopped by the KPBS studios back in 1995 to discuss his role as Richard III. He began by describing the opening of the film, which was directed by Richard Loncraine.

IAN McKELLEN: It begins very quietly, no words are spoken, it's the tap of a Morse code, it's the whine of a dog, it's the scrap of a knife and fork on the plate as Richard's first victim has his last supper. Then a dog starts barking and in comes Richard III, riding on a tank. Then the sound continues and we hear Richard's heavy breathing through the gas mask he's wearing [takes deep breaths in and out], and I'm breathing in the rhythm of blank verse whether you know it or not, and then I shoot my second victim and the movie starts.

You could say that McKellen is an actor who lives and breaths Shakespeare. Introduced to the Bard when he was only 8 years old, McKellen says that he was "riveted by the idea of people standing up on a platform speaking other peoples words and weaving magic out of it all." Infected with the acting bug, McKellen went to Cambridge where the example set by fellow students Trevor Nunn and David Frost helped convince him to pursue a career in the arts.