It’s a hot summer’s day; I meet them in Mc Kellen’s airy townhouse overlooking the Thames at Limehouse after rehearsals for their new West End production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land.
He was then crystallised in the collective psyche as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films.
Across the Pennines, Stewart was raised in a working-class family in Mirfield in West Yorkshire.
In case you forgot, Justin got discovered on You Tube, and it’s actually been 10 years since!
Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mc Kellen sit in two identical velvet thrones — the stately King and King of British theatre — every now and then reaching between them to tenderly clasp one another’s hand in the way that couples do.
‘I know that I’m in a love affair with Ian,’ Stewart declaims, statesman-like and pit-bull trim in a white shirt and snug J-Brand jeans, after a sip of Sancerre.
Next to him, Mc Kellen — sinewy, artfully dishevelled in a grandad shirt and silk pashmina — waves a glass of lemon vodka in the air.His mother was a seamstress and father a factory worker turned Army sergeant major who fought in the Second World War.He was an ‘angry, disappointed and at times violent man’ who regularly beat Stewart’s mother.‘Our whole way of thinking, our careful literacy, the Renaissance concept of the individual — it’s all a European idea.’ Is he worried that incidents of homophobic abuse will rise after the right swing of Brexit, along with racist ones?‘Well, if so, those little people, they’d just better watch out.’ Both were Northern war babies who ‘discovered acting as a way to fulfil a need’, says Mc Kellen, who was born in Burnley.Paintings adorn the walls; the overall effect is interior-designed Bohemia. I wish I was 24 so that I could wear what the 24-year-olds do these days.