Towleroad reported today that “Homeland” star Damian Lewis has issued an apology to Sir Ian McKellen over an offensive comment he made in an interview belittling older gay theater actors. Lewis never mentioned the veteran thespian in his incendiary remarks, but those who read his quote were quick to note there are not many older gay British theater actors who have made a huge splash in Hollywood playing famous wizards.
The “Homeland” star originally told a reporter he was glad to get out of theater before he became, "One of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards.”
Sir Ian McKellen became aware of the online outrage over Lewis’ statement and issued a lengthy rebuttal that included, “To rebut it: I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up.”
On Wednesday Damian Lewis issued a statement that read, "I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 – it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career. I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies."
"There was no need for @Lewis_Damian to apologize to me, as I thought his comments were fair. But he's a gentleman...Now I hope @lewis_damian enjoys @TheHobbitMovie DOS as much as I enjoy @SHO_Homeland,” Sir Ian McKellen later said on Twitter.
Damian Lewis can currently be seen in the creatively floundering season 3 of “Homeland” on Showtime. Sir Ian McKellen is busy co-starring with Patrick Stewart in the Broadway productions of “Waiting for Godat” and “No Man’s Land.” He can also be seen on the big screen this weekend reprising his acclaimed role of Gandalf in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” He will also return to his beloved role of Magneto in this year’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”