Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart Face Off in X-Men

Former Shakespearean Actors Co-star in
Upcoming Movie

  Sir Ian McKellen 
Los Angeles, California

For Immediate Release
Monday, 10 July 2000


Los Angeles --  When Patrick Stewart (Professor X) faces his nemesis Ian McKellen (Magneto) in the widely-anticipated sci-fi/action film X-Men, it won't be the first time the two actors have taken opposing sides of a dramatic issue. They first crossed paths more than twenty years ago, as co-stars in the Royal Shakespeare Company's premiere of Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, the play by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). Set in a Soviet psychiatric hospital/prison, the drama depicts the conflict between a doctor, played by Patrick Stewart, who is in charge of "treatment", and his political prisoner/patient Alexander, played by Ian McKellen.

In X-Men, directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil), they are leaders of two rival factions of "mutants" with extraordinary powers who each face threats of annihilation from the "normal" humans. As in Every Good Boy, Stewart's character tries to operate within the rules of "the system," while McKellen's character rebels.  The resulting conflict threatens the destruction of New York City.

How do two distinguished veterans of the British stage find themselves co-starring in a major Hollywood movie based on comic books? Stewart, of course, is famous for his portrayal of the Starship Enterprise's Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation; his pop culture credentials are unquestioned. For McKellen, the transition from Shakespeare to the comics has been equally straightforward: "I have no problems with being seen in a comic book movie. Dip in and out of my Stage, Video and Film web pages (at mckellen.com) and you will find more styles of plays and movies than the classics with which I am most associated. I revere much popular culture: for instance, I sang with the Pet Shop Boys  on their "Heart" video; honoured stand-up comedy (my solo show A Knight Out); and a year ago even made it onto Late Night with David Letterman."

Stewart and McKellen enjoyed reminiscing about their early acting days in between filming scenes of X-MEN in Toronto. And, as McKellen points out, the roots of their conflicts on stage and screen may run deep: "Patrick Stewart was born in Yorkshire and I in Lancashire, making X-MEN a rerun of the "Wars of the Roses" as in Shakespeare's history plays."

X-Men opens in theatres across the US on 14 July 2000, and in the UK on 18 August 2000.