Last week, theatrical icon Sir Ian McKellen shared a 50-year-old picture of himself that proves the legend was always cool as hell.
The 78-year-old actor, activist, and all-around icon posted a Throwback Thursday captioned, “#TBT I seem to be wearing two shirts, a waistcoat and a jacket in this #ott fashion shot from the mid-1960s. Hidden away is a marvelous gold Vacheron Constantin watch.” And much like his career, his photo was a hit, garnering almost 77,000 likes and 500 comments in less than a day.
This isn’t the first time the actor has participated in the Throwback tradition; again, like his acting career, his #TBT photos span the years. Earlier photos show him as a young actor in the 1970’s, during the LA run of Wild Honey in 1986, and standing in front of the theatre that an older McKellen would play King Lear in.
McKellen rose to prominence as a classical actor, wowing English audiences with his performances in Shakespearean histories and tragedies.
But it wasn’t until he started acting in major blockbusters in the 1990’s that he rose to worldwide fame. Perhaps his most famous roles have been as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magneto in X-Men.
But acting isn’t McKellen’s only claim to fame. McKellen, who came out on a BBC Radio 3 program in 1988, is a vocal activist for LGBT rights.
He’s one of the founders of Stonewall, a group that lobbies for LGBT rights in the UK, and works with many other LGBT charities.
McKellen’s been keeping busy lately. When he’s not posting wildly cool photos of himself on social media, McKellen has been wowing audiences with his performance as King Lear in the Chichester performance of Shakespeare’s tragedy.
Earlier this year, he also participated in a short film for Tate Britain’s new Queer British Art exhibit, where he talked about his young adulthood as a closeted gay man.
It’s important to McKellen that young LGBT people have people to look up to. “Part of the reason I … talk about being gay,” McKellen says in the video, “is because I don’t want today’s children not to enjoy their sexuality.”
So, while the #TBT photos that McKellen’s been posting are pretty cool, they’re not even half as cool as McKellen himself.