Sir Ian McKellen has apologised after appearing to suggest that Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer allegedly abused other people because they were not comfortable with their own sexuality.
The actor said his comments made during a recent podcast recording were “clumsily expressed”.
He told a recent live recording of the #QueerAF podcast during National Student Pride 2019: “Both of them were in the closet. Hence all their problems as people and their relationships with other people.
“If they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’re being accused.”
In a subsequent statement, he said: “As part of an extended podcast recently, I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality they wouldn’t abuse others. That, of course, is wrong.
“My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing, to be proud and open about their sexuality. In doing so, my point was clumsily expressed.
“I would never, ever trivialise or condone abuse of any kind. I deeply regret my careless remarks and apologise unreservedly for any distress I caused.
“When it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear.
“The accusers must be heard and the accused given the opportunity to clear their names. If the accusations prove credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed.”
Sir Ian worked with Bohemian Rhapsody director Singer on the X-Men films, in which he starred as the villain Magneto, and also appeared in his film Apt Pupil.
He worked with Spacey while he was artistic director of the Old Vic theatre, including a turn in the pantomime of Aladdin.
Both men have since been accused of abusing others. The Old Vic said it has received 20 personal testimonies of alleged inappropriate behaviour by Spacey, and in January he pleaded not guilty to groping an 18-year-old restaurant worker on the island of Nantucket in the US.
His downfall was triggered by actor Anthony Rapp, who alleged he was 14 when a 26-year-old Spacey made a sexual advance to him in 1986.
Spacey said he did not remember the encounter, but apologised for any “inappropriate drunken behaviour”.
The Oscar-winning actor is being investigated by police in the UK and the US. He has denied some of the allegations, but not responded to them all.
A report in The Atlantic magazine has alleged that Singer sexually assaulted four men while they were under-age.
Singer has denied the claims, and called magazine’s story “a homophobic smear piece”.
During the same podcast recording, Sir Ian also addressed whether those who have been accused of misconduct should be able to work again, saying: “I think that’s rather up to the public.
“Do you want to see someone who’s been accused of something that you don’t approve of? Do you ever want to see them again?
“If the answer is no, you won’t buy a ticket, you won’t turn on the television. But there may be others for whom that’s not a consideration.”