Oscars diversity row 'legitimate', says actor McKellen
Published 25/01/2016 | 13:06
Sir Ian McKellen has said criticism surrounding the lack of diversity among nominees at the Oscars is "legitimate".
The 76-year-old actor said he sympathises with those who feel under-represented and added that it is a grievance which has been felt in the film industry by women and is still felt by gay people.
The nominations for this year's Academy Awards have been mired in controversy due to no ethnic minority actors or actresses named in the top categories.
Speaking to the Press Association, Sir Ian said: "I think you have to live in Hollywood where the Oscars mean so much more than they do elsewhere to understand why people's feelings are running so high.
"And the fact that black people feel under-represented in studio movies and big movies, well, it's what women thought for a long time, it's what gay people like myself still think.
"And it's a legitimate complaint and the Oscars has become the focus of those worries, so I sympathise."
The nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards sparked an online campaign with the hashtag OscarSoWhite, as well as a debate about race and the film industry.
Actors Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, will boycott the ceremony alongside director Spike Lee.
Others including actors George Clooney, Mark Ruffalo, Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, Viola Davis and British director Steve McQueen have spoken of their disappointment with the lack of diversity among the nominees.
The Academy announced a new aim last week to double the number of female and minority members by 2020.
Sir Ian was speaking at the launch of BFI Presents Shakespeare On Film, a project which will see him travel around the world.
The programme explores how film-makers have adapted and interpreted Shakespeare's work for the big screen.