Appearing in New York today to speak about his not one but two Broadway plays — "No Man's Land" and "Waiting for Godot" — Sir Ian McKellen also sat down with the Wall Street Journal and spoke out against Russia's anti-gay laws. Those laws, of course, have led to a vigorous debate over whether pro-equality nations and athletes should boycott this year's Winter Olympics being held in the Russian resort town of Sochi.
McKellen agrees that the laws are hideous, yes telling the Journal, "It’s a dreadful situation and it’s the worst thing to have come out of Russia for a very, very long time." He also says, "As a gay man, it's absolutely appalling to me." But the X-Men and Lord of the Rings actor and friend of Elmo also believes that the Olympics should remain in place. Forget the fact that almost all host nations have made or are making objectionable policy decisions. (He singles out the United States's foreign policy, for example.) McKellen's well aware that the Olympics are a career-defining moment for athletes. To take that away would be cruel and pulling out would deflate the Olympic spirit. Discrimination would win.
"The Olympics is a very special event and the people involved of course it's the climax of their lives," he says in the video below. "If we were to not hold the games [over] politics…they would probably never take place. People will find enough to argue about in America's foreign policy." He went on, "I think what would be wonderful if all the athletes, gay and straight, and the Olympic authorities, were to make clear that they absolutely disapprove of it and they're going to ignore it, not because they don't care, but because in the moment, the spirit of the Olympics must take precedent."
Here's video of the good Sir talking Russia, with love: