In 2001, Ian McKellen put on the robe and pointed hat of a wizard named Gandalf and won a place in the hearts of Tolkien fans worldwide. Though his role in the film adaptation of Lord of the Rings introduced him to a new audience, McKellen had a thriving career a lifetime before his visit to Middle Earth. He made his West End acting debut in 1964 in James Saunders's A Scent of Flowers, but it was in 1980 that he took Broadway by storm when he played Antonio Salieri in Peter Shaffer's Tony Award-winning play Amadeus.
He has starred in over 400 plays and films, and he is that rare character: a celebrity whose distinguished political and social service has transcended his international fame to reach beyond the stage and screen. The breadth of his career - professional, personal, and political - has been truly staggering: Macbeth (opposite Judi Dench), Iago, King Lear, Chekhov's Sorin in The Seagull and Becket's tramp Estragon (opposite Patrick Stewart) in Waiting for Godot. Add to all this his tireless political activism in the cause of gay equality and you have a veritable phenomenon. Garry O'Connor's Ian McKellen: A Biography probes the heart of the actor, re-creating his greatest stage roles and exploring his personal life. Ian McKellen will show listeners what makes a great actor tick.