McKellen hands back €1.25m to keep his memoirs secret
Ian McKellen pulled out of writing his memoirs and handed back a reported €1.25m advance because he found it too painful to delve into his past, he revealed yesterday.
Appearing at the Oxford Literary Festival, the actor said he had put aside nine months to work on his autobiography, but later realised he wished to keep his private life separate from his public life.
McKellen, who came out as gay in 1988, has said before that he wished he had publicly acknowledged his sexuality earlier, and yesterday said he did not "quite understand" aspects of his private life, and wanted to keep them under wraps.
Asked why he had cancelled the deal with Hodder & Stoughton, he said: "I put nine months aside to do it, and I got a very handsome advance. Then I sent the money back.
"It was a bit painful - I didn't want to go back into my life and imagine things that I hadn't understood so far.
"Frankly, if anybody wants to know anything about my public life, my working life, my career, it's all catalogued in greater detail on my website than could ever be put into a book.
"The privacy of my life I don't quite understand myself, and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. So there you go - I'm sorry."
McKellen (76) said he first fell in love while acting in Oxford as a young man.
Reflecting wistfully on his love life, he said: "It was actually in this town that I was acting with some undergraduates and I fell in love with one of them. So Oxford is a very special place for me. It was the first person I felt attached to in that way."
The actor admitted he sometimes felt ready to die.
"I notice with other people close to death that actually they are quite reconciled to the idea," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)