Ian McKellen: Actresses Trading Sex for Roles was ‘Commonplace’ in Industry

DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 10: Actor Ian McKellen attends the unveiling of his dedicated beach locker room on the Promenade des Planches during the 41st Deauville American Film Festival on September 10, 2015 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
Francois Durand/Getty Images

Sir Ian McKellen weighed in on Hollywood’s widespread sexual misconduct scandal this week, explaining at a recent lecture that some actresses may be at least partially responsible for the current conditions in the entertainment industry because they deliberately trade sex for roles.

The 78-year-old screen veteran broached the subject of Hollywood’s scandal during a recent lecture at the Oxford Union, according to the Daily Mail.

“I hope we’re going through a period that will help to eradicate it altogether,” McKellen said. “But from my own experience, when I was starting acting in the early Sixties, the director of the theatre I was working at showed me some photographs he got from women who were wanting jobs… some of them had at the bottom of their photograph ‘DRR’ — directors’ rights respected. In other words, if you give me a job, you can have sex with me.”

“That was commonplace from people who proposed that they should be a victim. Madness,” the actor added. “People have taken advantage of that and encouraged it and it absolutely will not do.”

During the talk, McKellen reportedly expressed concern about false accusations, though he said he assumed “nothing but good” would come from the current environment in Hollywood.

The actor also offered his thoughts on Kevin Spacey, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple men. McKellen blasted Spacey — with whom he worked for a short time at London’s Old Vic Theatre in 2004 — for coming out as gay while defending himself from accusations of sexual misconduct made by actor Anthony Rapp.

“The circumstances in which he chose to do it are reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality,” McKellen said.

The entertainment industry has been rocked by allegations of sexual abuse against prominent and powerful figures in recent months, since the New York Times first reported on explosive claims against film producer Harvey Weinstein. In the months since the Times‘s October report, more than 100 prominent figures in media and entertainment have been accused of misconduct, including A-list stars like Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K., and Jeffrey Tambor.

McKellen is not the only celebrity to have questioned whether women may have contributed to Hollywood’s current environment.

Earlier this month, former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson sparked outrage after telling NBC News’s Megyn Kelly that many women could avoid being victimized if they followed some “common sense” advice.

“It was common knowledge that certain producers or certain people in Hollywood are people to avoid, privately,” Anderson told Kelly. “You know what you’re getting into if you’re going into a hotel room alone.”

In November, legendary actress Angela Lansbury was criticized for claiming that women must sometimes “take the blame” for harassment, because they constantly work to make themselves attractive to men. Lansbury later said her comments were taken out of context.


Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.