Ian McKellen has some complicated & awful thoughts about sexual harassment

12th Rome Film Festival - 'McKellen: Playing the Part' - Premiere

I remember when the second of the X-Men reboot films came out, the ones starring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and their older-gentlemen counterparts, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Those men did press together, and it always felt like Ian was particularly flirtatious with James and Michael. So flirtatious, in fact, I always wondered if Fassy and McAvoy felt a little bit uncomfortable. Ian has also always been pretty close to director Bryan Singer, who of course was “outed” in Sex Predatorgate 2017 (even though most people knew a lot about Singer’s activities for years). My point? It’s always difficult to say this about Internet-Faves, but there’s a good chance that Ian McKellen might be problematic. Here’s further evidence: in comments last month to the Oxford Union, McKellen basically says that women are partly to blame for the culture of sexual harassment and abuse. Suuure.

Academy Award-nominated actor and advocate for equality Sir Ian McKellen recently addressed the numerous sexual harassment allegations running rampant through the industry saying that wrongful accusations can definitely have an impact. He also pointed out how earlier in his career, many women would have sex for roles. During a talk at Oxford Union, according to the Daily Mail, McKellen applauded victims for coming forward about sexual harassment saying “it’s sometimes very difficult for victims to do that.” He added, “‘I hope we’re going through a period that will help to eradicate it altogether.”

He then went on to share his own experiences during the early ’60s. “The director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs,” he said. “Some of them had at the bottom of their photograph ‘DRR’ — directors’ rights respected. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me. That was commonplace for people who proposed that they should be a victim. Madness. People have taken advantage of that and encouraged it and it absolutely will not do.”

Although supportive of the victims, he went on to talk about being cautious about the accusations flooding Hollywood as of late. “I assume nothing but good will come out of these revelations, even though some people get wrongly accused — there’s that side of it as well,” he said.

As an openly gay man, McKellen also addressed the allegations surrounding Kevin Spacey, who he worked with in 2004 while he was the artistic director at the Old Vic in London saying that the way he chose to come out was “reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality.”

[From Deadline & The Daily Mail]

In case there are any doubts about whether Ian really said this, he did – you can see the video here. The discussion was last month and his comments didn’t even make headlines until the Daily Mail picked them up this week. Ian, much like Matt Damon and so many other bros, wants us to think about the poor men who are being falsely accused by lying bitches. No, not lying bitches. Lying SLUTS! Sluts who, you know, live and operate in a patriarchal society, women who feel like the only way to attain professional goals is by leveraging their bodies to get ahead. It’s not about consent in Ian’s world, nor is it about men with power and influence abusing their power and influence to demean, harass and assault people with zero power and influence. It bugs me that men – and it’s almost always men – conflating the issue of consensual and transactional relationships versus harassment, assault and abuse. Those are two very different conversations. Ugh.

12th Rome Film Festival - 'McKellen: Playing the Part' - Photocall

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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38 Responses to “Ian McKellen has some complicated & awful thoughts about sexual harassment”

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  1. Wren says:

    He’s an old man. He has old man opinions, which are extremely biased and stupidly out of date. I’m hardly surprised.

    • margot4go says:

      There’s way more to it than that – there’s a hypocrisy underneath his words.

      It’s unfortunate, I used to like him a lot. Thought his friendship w/Patrick Steward was cute, until I realized they were BOTH in Xmen. When I found out about Apt Pupil and the set and McKellan/Singer, I almost threw up. RIP Brad Renfro :(

      I’ll just leave this here….Ian McKellan and Bryan Singer photos on google will fit the rest….


  2. Alexandria says:

    Before all of these were discussed about Ian, I’ve felt uncomfortable watching him flirting with his costars. But I thought it was just me.

    • Agapanthus says:

      Yes, me too. I have also heard lots of negative rumours about Ian. It is difficult to know whether there is any truth in them or whether it is simply homophobia.

    • Snazzy says:

      Me too!! I thought I was just being a jerk so I never commented much when I saw the photos. Glad I’m not the only one

    • Melinda90 says:

      He was a regular at Bryan Singer’s parties. There are pictures w/him and Singer and what looks like barely of age young men. All over google.

      A lot of horrific things went down on the set of Apt Pupil, McKellan and Singer’s first collaboration.

      I loved Ian McKellan for a long time. Great actor, seemed like a good guy, adorable friendship w/PatrickStewart.

      But in the last year I have learned more about him and his connection to Bryan Singer’s ‘circle’ and now he’s permanently tainted. He talks about casting couches and women, but it’s been alleged he did his own ‘casting’ of barely legal young men at Singer shindigs.

  3. tracking says:

    Lots of rumors about Sir Ian. We shall see.

  4. Seraphina says:

    The men needn’t to learn to keep their mouth shut on this subject. Like they should do when it comes to giving birth and taking about labor.

  5. Embee says:

    I become enraged when I read or hear comments in this vein. The speaker/writer invariably does NOT probe deeper as to WHY there was a phrase so sterile and commonplace that it was referenced by its initials and used with frequency. Honestly it’s smacks of a male bitterness that they don’t have the opportunity to sleep their way into roles, without contemplating the horror that for women it was de rigeur??? I WANT TO SCREAM!!!!

    • Kitten says:

      “Honestly it’s smacks of a male bitterness that they don’t have the opportunity to sleep their way into roles”

      Thank you for articulating this.

  6. ell says:

    quiet, old man.

    also, i’m incredibly wary of all people who somewhat blame the victims. it makes me wonder whether they take this position because they have something to hide or are close to someone who does. it’s fishy either way.

  7. Esmom says:

    Yeah, hmm, ugh. I’m not sure if we want these guys to stop talking…or to just keep talking, just so we can weed out the trash a bit more easily.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      I was thinking about that and YES, I WANT THEM TO KEEP TALKING. We can take it, even if it’s hurtful as hell. But we can take it. Let them show their real face.

  8. Lilith says:

    Why is this predasour called “sir”?

  9. velourazure says:

    Here’s a thought. Maybe we don’t need any man’s opinion on the current sexual harassment revelation tsunami. Maybe they can just sit back, listen and be quiet for once.

    • Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

      Or they can inform themselves, get out of their misogynistic bubble, and SUPPORT women.

      • Peeking in says:

        Unfortunately, we can’t force men to educate themselves or be supportive. I’ve stopped getting angry at their opinions, it’s too exhausting. They’re entitled to their (flawed) points-of-view, and we get to cancel them (or not).

      • velourazure says:

        Yeah, until they do that, IF EVER, i need for them to put a sock in it.

  10. Pumpkin (formally soup, pie) says:

    What I take from this is that if a woman offers sexual “favors” the man is bound to say yes? Poor men. How about they say no?

    • HadToChangeMyName says:

      Or that because “some” women offer favors, they should “all” be harassed and assaulted?

  11. Sigh... says:

    Ian McKellan?
    The one that’s buddies w/ “Apt Pupil’s” director Bryan “Pool Party” Singer?
    The one that’s pictured w/ Singer AND that Goddard dude who was eventually accused of sexually harassing/assaulting, what, 8, actors, incl Anthony Edwards?


    • Sisi says:

      A story about Goddard was just released. I think it was the LA Times.
      Several accusers.


    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Best case scenario here is that this is a privileged (old) man who doesn’t want to accept that his buddies within the industry are capable of such things, who’s bought into misogynistic myths about women always ‘crying rape’ to cover up consensual sex they could get in trouble for (or thinks women are too stupid, hysterical, and fragile to know the difference between the two), and, like a lot of men right now, is hyper-focused on this ‘false allegation’ boogeyman. Many of them are centering that male fear right now.

  12. Angela82 says:

    *Bangs head against desk*

  13. Jbapista says:

    I’ve heard nothing tangible alleged against McKellan. The idea that he’s gay and worked with Singer and therefore he must be problematic – without any more evidence of wrongdoing at all – is seriously dodgy: to my mind, it reflects some unspoken homophobic assumptions about older gay men.

    I’m also not seeing what the fuss is about what he said at Oxford. He suggested that false accusations can happen – but anyone who knows anything about criminal justice knows this is a small possibility. (I’m a lawyer in the UK. Three rape cases collapsed in England last year due to new evidence being uncovered that cast serious doubt about the credibility of the allegations made against the accused.) Adopting a general stance of believing victims of rape/harassment isn’t incompatible with recognising the possibility of a false accusation in exceptional cases.

    • ell says:

      as a lawyer you would most certainly know that these cases are ridiculously difficult to take to court, let alone get a conviction, and that a lack of evidence/conflicting evidence doesn’t imply innocence. not to mention that ‘adopting a general stance’ is something for you lot of lawyers and judges, not for rando actors whose opinions have no bearing in the justice system.

  14. Otaku Fairy says:

    “….conflating the issue of consensual and transactional relationships versus harassment, assault and abuse. Those are two very different conversations.” Exactly. So far, no women or men who actively pursued a chance to exchange consensual sexual activity for a role they wanted has said anything yet. That’s perfectly understandable. It’s also fine, because nobody owes the public private information about their bodies, and because the movement probably won’t be negatively impacted by them keeping their business to themselves anyway. But since Ian doesn’t get it (and he’s not the only one), there are a few imp:ortant points that need to be emphasized

    1.) THEY ARE NOT TO BLAME- fully OR partially- for those men’s decisions to go out and sexually abuse other women and men.
    2.) THEY DO NOT SPEAK FOR EVERYONE: Consent from some/= Consent from all.
    3.) THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE MISLABELLED AS VICTIMS. Motives for engaging in sexual activity do not have to be limited 1 or 2 ‘special’ reasons in order for it to be consensual. Their bodies are their own to do as they please with. Hopefully they won’t be outed without their consent.

  15. gnerd says:

    Ummmmmm….how to put this delicately….don’t be surprised when his name comes up in conjunction with the reckoning that is coming for Bryan Singer.

    It’s going to be uglier than you think it’s going to be.

    • Erinn says:

      Singer’s been like teflon so far. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get anything done. Hell, articles about him have been ‘removed’ – I’ve seen a few people pointing them out. So I’m not sure if we’re ever going to see any real reckoning with him.

      • angela505 says:

        Singer has been teflon so far for ONE reason: David Geffen.

        Geffen is allegedly the rat king of the ped0s. He has enough money to not only buy silence, but permanent silence, i.e. have people killed to keep secrets.

        See, if one ped0 falls, all of them do. They know this. He writes a check and suddenly, there’s an alibi. Barry Diller, Neuman, Michael Huffington, Singer, Goddard, Ancier….its a intimate ring of ped0philes, no joke. They protect one another – though of course, there’s rank and file, meaning the billionaire (Geffen, of course) is at the top.

  16. Neelyo says:

    Speaking of Singer, since the firing from that film, radio silence. Hmmm….

  17. Shijel says:

    Called it. Funny how he has so much to say about how women are complicit in their abuse (as if women haven’t been abused since the bloody stone age) but remains utterly tight-lipped on the topic of his buddies Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey. It’s known he frequented the same circles although has managed to avoid the brunt of the sordid gossip.

    Men gonna men, always.

  18. Jayna says:

    He’s 78. His comments don’t surprise me.

  19. Ally says:

    Ugh, Martin Clunes, who is younger said the same thing.

    He actually said that the fact that he saw some random women hanging over Weinstein (Clunes had a part in Shakespeare in Love) at a club made him doubt the sexual assault charges. So dumb. So insensitive. So disappointing.


  20. heather says:

    Unlike many other industries, aspiring actors do often trade on their sexuality. Some do it willingly and others are coerced or forced, but the real question for an environment like Hollywood, that celebrates the idea of debauching the young until you are very old, is how many “willing” victims are truly willing, which think they have no choice so try and play along, and which absolutely did not want to participate and were silenced with the “myth” of how willing all the pretty young things are.