Sir Ian McKellen has said young people are doing away with labels over their sexuality, and that “fluidity is the future”.
The Lord Of The Rings star, 78, has toured schools to campaign against homophobia and spoke publicly about his sexuality in 1988.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the future is, as it was expressed to me by a couple of sixth form girls the other day, they don’t want labels.
“They don’t want to be labelled lesbian, they don’t want to be labelled bisexual, they don’t want to be labelled anything….Fluidity is the future.”
He added: “I think that’s terribly hopeful. I think the world will be changing beautifully and people will be more relaxed and accepting, that’s what I pick up from schools.”
Sir Ian spoke as he announced his return to the stage where he made his West End debut, to star in the title role of King Lear.
The X-Men star appeared at the Duke of York’s Theatre in a 1964 production of A Scent Of Flowers, and will be back at the London venue for the transfer of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of King Lear.
He will be reprising his title role after winning rave reviews for the production of the play.
He told Today: “I’ve long thought Shakespeare belongs in small theatres… Everyone will be in touching distance of the actors in a way which is very helpful to me. It means that I can speak it, talk it, rather than bellow it and shout it.”
Sir Ian said that he found productions which re-interpret Shakespeare’s plays through one contemporary issue “tiresome”.
Asked about reports that he previously said he would not be doing more big Shakespeare roles, he added: “Things change! I found doing King Lear at Chichester actually rather energising…. I see Elton (John) is going to do a farewell tour of three years!”
There will be 100 performances of Shakespeare’s tragedy, beginning in July.
Sir Ian’s stage credits include several of Shakespeare’s most famous roles, such as Hamlet and Macbeth.
King Lear opens at the Duke Of York’s Theatre, London, on July 11.