McKellen: I will not go near bees
The Lord Of The Rings star will be reunited with Gods And Monsters filmmaker Bill Condon in the big-screen adaptation of Mitch Cullin's novel, A Slight Trick Of The Mind.
Sir Ian told Empire magazine: "I've never had ambitions to play Sherlock Holmes, but this is Sherlock in a very particular place... he's nearly 100 years old, and in retirement, and it's more about being a beekeeper than it is being a detective."
Asked if movie-goers would see him donning a beekeeper's outfit, the 74-year-old actor said: "You certainly will! There will be plenty of nets too, because I am not going anywhere near any bees, I'll tell you that now. I have a healthy respect for bees. I love their honey, but that's about it."
The novel also features a younger incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, but Sir Ian does not know who will play him yet.
He said: "Ah well, you never know... sometimes they call in Michael Fassbender to be me as a young man, and sometimes they put Patrick Stewart and me through the mangle of film technology and out we come looking 20 years younger, so who knows what will happen? Then again, it's not an expensive movie, so there probably won't be too much CGI..."
Sir Ian added: "I've met Benedict a couple of times. I knew his father, Timothy Carlton, when we were both quite young, and I remember him telling me that his real name was Cumberbatch, 'but of course I had to change it because you could never be successful with a surname like that'."
Filming for A Slight Trick Of The Mind begins in London next April.