Sir Ian 'Gandalf' McKellen mistaken for homeless, given a dollar

homelessmckellan.jpg As if you needed proof Sir Ian McKellen is a damn fine actor:
The 70-year-old actor is rehearsing Waiting For Godot in Melbourne, Australia, and was sitting in his tramp costume having a break when a passer-by gave him an Australian dollar. He said: "During the dress rehearsal of Godot, I crouched by the stage door of the Comedy Theatre, getting some air, my bowler hat at my feet (and) seeing an unkempt old man down on his luck, a passer-by said, 'Need some help, brother?' and put a dollar in my hat."
Sir Ian McKellen mistaken for tramp outside theatre (via Sci Fi Wire)


    1. Believe it or not, people with cameras quite commonly park themselves outside theaters where A-list actors are appearing.

  1. I think McKellen is one of the finest actors of the last 20 years and I hope his Melbourne production is a success but…

    …this photo and the accompanying story smells suspiciously of a set-up.

  2. The photo could well be a recreation of an actual event. Since McKellan said he was “crouched” outside the theater, I don’t believe this is intended to be the event itself.

  3. I’m presuming the photo was staged later as it does not match McKellen’s description of events. I’d also like to think this wasn’t a publicity stunt…could be, but more likely it’s a fun story that the theatre is just capitalizing on.

  4. I have a friend who is the stereotypical unkempt computer nerd who was actually confronted by MIT security under the assumption that he was a homeless guy wandering into campus despite being a doctoral candidate there.

    1. Last I checked about a quarter of PhD candidates could be easily mistaken for hobos, especially in engineering.

  5. It is real, though the photo is likely a recreation. Sir McKellan went on to say that he would like to offer the anonymous donor a free ticket to see his play, or if he insists on paying at least a a dollar off :D A real class act that man.

  6. The photo is a re-enactment of the occurrence – but it is genuine in that the woman was a genuine bypasser that gave him money.

  7. From all accounts, the theatre in question has no need to drum up free publicity – McKellen doing Beckett is quite formidable enough. On top of that, getting it reported in the UK Telegraph is not much help for a show in Australia. Having said that, I’m sure it will filter into our news as our newspapers cannibalise the overnight words from around the world for something “fresh”.

  8. That’s a show I’d like to see. Godot is an old favourite, and Ian McKellen looks like he could do the part well.

  9. I saw this show in London last month – bloody brilliant. McKellen is an amazing Gogo, and Roger Rees as Didi (in the picture behind McKellen) is just as good. Heartily recommended if you get the chance.

  10. You’d have thought people would have learned not to hand Magneto bits of metal by now…

    (Yes, the Aus$ is a coin – notes start at Aus$5)

  11. I read this in an article in the herald sun here in melbourne a few days ago. Apparently he mentioned that a male passer-by gave him money to the journalist so he tried to see if he could do it again and that’s where the photo of the woman giving him money is from. He also said that if the good samatiran wanted to see the show he’d try to get him in for free, unless he didn’t want a free ticket and in that case they’d try take a dollar off the price.

    1. Ah, thanks for the explanation. It’s a peeve of mine how often blogs post photos for their stories without any explanation of how it relates to the article, if it all; often it’s just a random semi-topical image from Flickr not actually related to the event in question, but without a caption there’s no way to know for sure.

  12. ‘Need some help, brother?’

    Maybe it was Desmond Hume trying to get him to the Island?

    1. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who immediately jumped to a Lost reference. =D

  13. I heard about a version of Godot that was staged on the streets of the Ninth Ward after Katrina as part of an effort to revitalize the area and bring the community together. I doubt anyone would have given McKellen any money if he’d been hanging around on the street after that one. I’d argue the roles might have been reversed.

  14. He was accidentally recreating a scene from The Prisoner miniseries. Isn’t there a scene in that where he’s distraught and disheveled and nobody believes that he’s Number Two anymore? Did anyone else watch that miniseries?

  15. Once, in Yugoslavia, they made a movie about Tito. When one camera-man got arrested and put in custody, the actors playing Tito and bodyguards went to the station, claimed themselves to be Tito and bodyguards, and managed to force the police to release the cameraman.

  16. (Thanks the woman for her kindness),”Buy that woman a car please!”-Sir Ian.
    “Yes sir!”-Lacky.

  17. McKellan in Waiting For Godot? I wish I lived in Australia.

    Estragon: Well, shall we go?
    Vladimir: Yes! Let’s go.
    (they do not move)

  18. Oop, I misquothed a bit there. Still, one of my favourite plays/pieces of literature I’ve ever been obliged to study.

    1. So he was crouching just outside a theater door, and someone gave him a dollar? This simply reeeeeks of publicity stunt.

  19. awesome hat on the geezer on the right. on the left, her boots are ok, not sure about how they work with the bag so much. I’ve seen the old guy on the chair someplace before.

  20. Sir Ian is the NICEST man! I happened to be backpacking around NZ when LOTR: Return of the King premiered in Wellington. It was a huge event there. The whole town turned out, stars being shuttled about everywhere, events going on nightly, buildings decorated to look like movie sets.
    We decided to stay and enjoy the festivities and a few of us camped out by the red carpet the night before the main event.
    Imagine our surprise when at 2a.m. who hunkers down on the pavement next to us but Sir Gandalf himself! He chatted with us, got to know us, answered questions and signed a much coveted poster for one of the group. He said he just wanted to meet the fans. Then he quietly went away. No cameras, no press, just a nice guy meeting with the people on the street.

  21. Ian McKellen: Please, take these free tickets to my play!

    Homer: What? What play?

    Ian McKellen: We thespians believe it’s bad luck to mention the name of this particular play out loud.

    Homer: You mean ‘MacBeth’?
    [a car splashes Ian McKellen]

    Ian McKellen: Quiet, you plundering fool! You’ll curse us all!

    Homer: What, by saying ‘MacBeth’?
    [an anvil falls on Ian McKellen’s foot]

    Ian McKellen: OW! Stop saying it!

    Homer: Saying what?

    Ian McKellen: ‘MACBETH’! Oh, now I’ve said it.
    [McKellen is hit by lightning]

    Bart Simpson: This is cool! ‘MacBeth’, ‘MacBeth’, ‘MacBeth’.
    [McKellen is hit by lightning each time Bart says ‘MacBeth’]

    Marge Simpson: Bart, stop saying ‘MacBeth’!
    [McKellen is hit by lightning]

    Lisa Simpson: Mom, you said ‘MacBeth’.
    [McKellen is hit by lightning]

    Homer: Mr. ‘MacBeth’, I’m really sorry.
    [McKellen is hit by lightning]

    Ian McKellen: That’s quite alright. You didn’t know.

  22. That fellow with Ian McKellen resembles Christopher Lloyd a.k.a. Jim Ignatowski from Taxi. Such much karma in one picture.

  23. She’s supposed to take the hat then they pass it back and forth to each other over and over until he slams it down.

  24. the photo is obviously just to put with the story. I’m sure the story is legit everyone, I mean really. Everyones always gotta be critical…

  25. If this happened to me, and I was Sir Ian McKellen, I think I would hop up, look him or her straight in the eye, and say, “You’re a good man. What’s your favorite charity? I’m going to donate $999 and $1 to it for the smile you’ve brought me this day.”

  26. Reminds me of one day when we were all sitting in ethics class waiting for the prof to arrive and some raggedy looking bum guy shuffled in (this was in detroit, there were plenty to spare) and started digging soda cans out of the trash. We all felt a little weird about it and finally someone asked if they could help him, and that he wasn’t supposed to be in here… his reply, in this huge, deep, booming bass voice… “Young man, I am Professor Powers, filling in for Professor Sencerz. And you young people must learn to recycle. This is the only planet we have.”

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