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King Harry Lear, the Lord of the Rings -- and the Flies

During his Q&A to promote his star turn as King Lear on "Great Performances" Wednesday, Sir Ian McKellen was confronted with a certain amount of literary confusion on the part of TV critics.

One critic wondered whether, when McKellen's "walking around the streets of Aukland, New York, or London" people came up to him and said "'Oh, King Lear,' or do they say 'Lord of the Flies' or what do they say when they see you?"

"Well, if they say 'Lord of the Flies' I put them right," McKellen said, smiling patiently. "They often say 'Hi, Dumbledore!' and I say 'No, no, that's Mike Gambon [of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series]. I play the real wizard - the best wizard."

The "Lord of the Rings" wizard, Gandalf.

"Of course, there's a confusion because Ms. Rowling has announced that Dumbledore is gay, hasn't she? So maybe that's the confusion," said McKellen.

"Whether Gandalf is gay is another matter," McKellen said. "His wife is never mentioned and he's 7,000 years old. He must have had some experience with sex."

In re his "King Lear" nude scene -- the one we won't see in the PBS version -- McKellen confessed that every night when he took his clothes off "you know what I used to do? Pull in my stomach. That's pathetic! I was playing an old man. I should have let it all hang out and I couldn't do that."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 8, 2009; 6:36 AM ET
Categories:  Winter TV Press Tour 2009  
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