Sir Ian McKellen has made further comments around Hollywood’s diversity troubles, questioning why an openly gay actor has never collected an Academy Award.
Yesterday, the 76-year-old star of the X-Men and The Hobbit franchises expressed sympathy for black actors in Hollywood who had felt discriminated against, adding that gay actors have often been “disregarded”.
But now McKellen has questioned why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never recognised an openly gay actor across the 88-year history of the iconic ceremony, suggesting that homophobia is just as big of a problem in the industry as racism.
“No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar; I wonder if that is prejudice or chance,” he told The Guardian.
When prompted about the fact Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sean Penn had all won Academy Awards for portraying gay men on screen, McKellen wondered what may happen if the tables were turned.
“How clever, how clever, what about giving me one for playing a straight man?”
To date, McKellen has been nominated twice for the Best Actor category, first for his role in Gods and Monsters (1999) and as Best Supporting Actor category as Gandalf the Grey for The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002).
“My speech has been in two jackets… ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar.’ I’ve had to put it back in my pocket twice,” he said.
While he did not indicate his intentions to boycott this years’ ceremony, the actor agreed the current voting system for the Oscars did not truly represent the ethnic diversity of the Hollywood acting fraternity.
“If you are trying to have a career, as a black or Hispanic actor in a state – California – where white people are now the minority, and you are being judged by an Academy where the vast majority are white, male, middle-aged and old… well, perhaps that is the wrong yardstick.”