Ian McKellen Responds to "Abhorrent" Orlando Shooting

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Ian McKellen

The celebrated British actor and LGBT activist commented while attending the Shanghai Film Festival, where he is taking part in a Shakespeare Lives cultural program.

Ian McKellen called the violence that devastated Orlando, Fla., on Sunday "abhorrent" as he shared his own feelings of grief over the incident.

McKellen, who was speaking Monday at a press conference promoting the works of Shakespeare during the Shanghai International Film Festival, said that "there was much to say about the violence in our world today. [But] I've always tended to be a pacifist. I think violence at the personal level or at the state level is abhorrent. I share everyone else's feelings of distress." 

When pushed on the issue, the celebrated actor and fervent LGBT activist said that "it isn't always helpful when foreigners make comments about events in another country. The President of the United States summed it up better than I could."

McKellen, who has a wide following in China for playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, as well as Magneto in the X-Men franchise, is in Shanghai to promote the British Council and British Film Institute's Shakespeare Lives cultural program to coincide with the 400-year anniversary of the playwright's death.

The global program seeks to promote Shakespeare's works on stage, screen and elsewhere. A remastered version of McKellen's seminal 1995 film Richard III is part of the festival program, and the actor also gave a master class on the Bard to aspiring students and actors.