Ian McKellen is one of the greatest British actors of all time and is back on the big screen this week with new drama Mr Holmes, which sees him play Sherlock Holmes, as we have never seen him before.

Ian McKellen In Mr Holmes

Ian McKellen In Mr Holmes

Over the years, we have seen McKellen enjoy success on the big screen, television as well as in the theatre - proving that versatility is one of the keys to a long and very successful career.

He has had just as varied a film career from iconic blockbusters to Shakespeare adaptations and we look at some of his best movies so far.

- Gods and Monsters (1998)

Gods and Monsters marked the first time that McKellen had teamed up with director Bill Condon when the movie hit the big screen back in 1999.

The movie based based on the novel by Christopher Bram and explored the final days of Frankenstein director James Whale. Long forgotten by the studios, Whale has retired to pursue painting and a life of leisure. Gods and Monsters explores his final fascination with a handsome gardener, Clayton Boone.

McKellen took on the role of Whale in the film, alongside Brendan Fraser as Boone - Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, and David Dukes completed a great line-up.

Gods and Monsters is a movie that well and truly belongs to McKellen as he gives a powerful, sophisticated, and understanding performance as Whale.

For me, McKellen elevates Gods and Monsters to something more and you could never imagine another actor taking on this role and playing it with such finesse and emotional power.

McKellen was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar - sadly, losing out to Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful. The film was nominated for three Oscars and walked away with Best Adapted Screenplay.

Gods and Monsters

- Richard III (1996)

McKellen had enjoyed a long stint of playing Richard III before taking on the role in Richard Loncraine's adaptation of the William Shakespeare play back in 1996. McKellen also teamed up with the director to pen the screenplay.

This reimagining of Shakespeare's classic tale was set in a fascist Britain in the 1930s and follow Richard, who begins plotting to overthrow his brother Edward - who has just taken up the throne after a civil war.

You don't have to be a big Shakespeare fan to enjoy this adaptation of Richard III as it is a movie that quite dark and full of twists and turns.

This is one of McKellen's greatest villainous roles as he plays Richard III with a dark menace that really is incredibly chilling. This was clearly a role that he knew well and played it with such authority that he commands every scene that he is in.

Despite being overlooked at the Oscar for his terrific performance, McKellen did pick up Best Actor nominations at the Golden Globes and at the Baftas; he was also nominated at Best Adapted Screenplay at the Baftas for his work on the script.

Richard III

- Scandal (1989)

Back in 1989, McKellen teamed up with John Hurt, Joanne Whalley, and Bridget Fonda with Scandal, which saw Michael Caton-Jones in the director's chair for his feature film debut.

Scandal explores the Profumo Scandal, which rocked British politics back in 1963. McKellen took on the role of John Profumo, Britain's minister of war, who had become sexually involved with call-girl Christine Keeler.

Scandal is a complex political thriller that explores one of British politics' most high profile scandals. It is a stylistic film from director Caton-Jones, who really does capture the look at the feel of the sixties.

Once again, McKellen shines as Profumo, who finds his life and career, are turned upside down by the decisions that he makes.

John Hurt is also on top form as Dr Stephen Ward, who, through his range of contacts and his parties, introduces Keeler to this political world where she meets Profumo.

Scandal is a slick and edge of your seat movie that really does delve into that time in great detail and unravels what went on.


- The Lord of the Rings 2001-2003

When many think of Ian McKellen the first role that springs to mind is that of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was back in 2001 and The Fellowship of the Ring that we were introduced to McKellen in this role for the first time - in total, he has played this wizard in six movies.

The Lord of the Rings was widely regarded as an almost unfilmable book but Peter Jackson brought it to the big screen in the noughties and it remains one of the biggest, best, and most successful movie trilogies of all time.

While The Lord of the Rings trilogy is very much an ensemble movie, McKellen gives a terrific performance as the worldly and wise Gandalf, who sets of with Frodo and the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring.

McKellen gives some gravitas and power to this iconic literary character - the scenes that he shares with Christopher Lee in the first film are some of the best in the entire franchise.

The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in 2002 and 2003 and all three movies enjoyed critical and box office success. The trilogy grossed in excess of $2.9 billion at the global box office.

McKellen received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for The Fellowship of the Ring and he went on to reprise the role in The Hobbit trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings

- X-Men (2000-2014)

Magneto is another blockbuster role that McKellen has become synonymous with in recent years in the very popular X-Men film franchise.

It was back in 2000 when X-Men was brought to the big screen by director Bryan Singer, as McKellen starred alongside Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Halle Berry in another terrific ensemble cast.

McKellen would reprise the role of Magneto in X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand before seeing the character go down a different path last year with X-Men: Days of Future Past - the first time we had seen the actor return to the role in eight years.

Much like his role with The Lord of the Rings, McKellen once again brought a gravitas to the role of Magneto and made his so much more than a comic book movie villain.

His moments with Patrick Stewart - who played Charles Xavier - were some of the franchise's best as they were two men on different sides who stayed friends against all of the odds. However, by the time Days of Future Past struck the big screen, the two found themselves on the same side.

McKellen has revealed this week that he will not be reprising the role of Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse and I fear that Days of Future Past may have been the last time he would take on this role.


- Mr Holmes (2015)

Mr Holmes is one of the summer movies that I have been looking forward to for some time - it looks set to be a breath of fresh air amongst all of the blockbusters that we have been treated to.

Mr Holmes sees McKellen reunite with Bill Condon as he takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes in a movie that looks at the later life of this iconic character.

In 1947, the world famous sleuth has retired to a remote Sussex farmhouse, living in relative anonymity with only his housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger for company. Cantankerous, demanding, and frustrated with the mis-representation of him in Watson's best-selling novels, he diverts his attention to an unsolved case. As the mystery deepens, Sherlock tries desperately to recall the events of 30 years ago, that ultimately led to his retirement.

Mr Holmes is a movie that is already surrounded in Oscar whispers and McKellen's central performance has been winning over critics and audiences on the festival circuit.

This is like Sherlock Holmes that we have never seen him before and this is a very deep and moving performance from the actor - it really is one of the best performances of his career to date.

McKellen is already being tipped as a possible Best Actor contender - it really is about time that he got his hands on this big acting prize.

Mr Holmes

Mr Holmes is released 19th June.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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