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Ian McKellen Shares Regret Over Not Realizing Elliot Page’s Struggle on ‘X-Men’ Set

McKellen reflects on Page's "difficulty with communicating" during the production of "X-Men."

Ian McKellen and Elliot Page

Ian McKellen as Magneto and Elliot Page as Kitty Pryde in the “X-Men” franchise

Fox/Everett Collection

Ian McKellen used a recent interview with Attitude Magazine to show support for his “X-Men” co-star Elliot Page after he came out as transgender in a December social media post. Page joined the “X-Men” franchise as the mutant Kitty Pryde in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which marked McKellen’s third movie playing Magneto after “X-Men” and “X2: X-Men United.” The two actors worked together again on “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

“Everything gets better when you come out because you get self-confidence,” McKellen said, reflecting on his own experience as a gay man in Hollywood. “So you get better in terms of relationships, friends of all sorts, family, if you’re lucky. And in my case, I think in every case, your acting is bound to change and improve.”

McKellen expressed regret over not realizing Page’s identity struggle when they worked together on the “X-Men” movies. The Magneto actor remembered Page being quiet on set and not speaking up, which is not the Page he saw later in life as Page came out (first as gay in 2014, then as transgender in 2020) and started using his voice to advocate on behalf of gay and transgender rights.

“I remember Elliot Page, in one of the ‘X-Men,’ sat as close as we are now. And I had to speak when they’d finished, and I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” McKellen said. “Nobody could hear what they were saying. So, I said, ‘Look, if you can’t speak up, would you mind when you’re finished speaking, just dropping your hand so I know when you’ve finished speaking?'”

McKellen continued, “And then they came out [as gay] years later and suddenly you couldn’t stop them talking. You heard everything. And now…they’re Elliot. And I’m so happy for Elliot. And so disappointed in myself that I didn’t detect what their difficulty was with communicating.”

Elliot Page came out as transgender on December 1, writing on social media, “I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society.”

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