10 Questions for Ian McKellen

British actor and gay-rights activist Ian McKellen on Gandalf's sex drive, hotel Bibles and that new monarch-to-be

Bjarne Jonasson for TIME

You're playing Gandalf again in The Hobbit. If Tolkien were alive, what would you ask him?
Well, I don't know. He is of a time gone by. Would he still be smoking today? Would he be the sort of Catholic who wouldn't understand why someone like me would be openly gay and think myself God's creature as he was?

Anything you'd ask him about Gandalf?
We could imagine what he hadn't already revealed. Gandalf must be awfully frustrated sexually. Or maybe after 7,000 years, it doesn't matter anymore.

You've long been highly regarded in the theater. At some point you also...

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