There's no sex in Middle Earth.

I used to think 'King Lear' was an analysis of insanity, but I don't really think it is. When Lear is supposed to be at his most insane, he is actually understanding the world for the first time.

'Lord of the Rings' was about saving the world, big time, big duties.

If you've been in a film that's seen by millions and millions and millions of people, you're more likely to be recognized for that than for your theater performances, which were seen by considerably less people. Why would I get upset by that?

I'm the sort of person who doesn't write in ink. I only write in pencil, so it can be rubbed out.

I'm not someone who wears shades all the time and ducks into a darkened car in case I'm recognized - that would be absolute misery.

I certainly wouldn't define myself as a northerner. I'm not even really sure what that means. I've lived in London for 50 years. I wasn't born here, but I have spent most of my life here. So I don't make much of it, to be honest. I'm just myself.

When I've been asked what should be on my gravestone, I've said: 'Here lies Gandalf. He came out.' Two big achievements.

In the '50s and '60s, the life of a gay man was a secret. Homosexuality was illegal, so you didn't draw attention to yourself.

Gandalf is ever-present in my life. I like it.

Why do you act? You act for an audience. In the theatre, you're in their presence. Film stars don't know what it is to have an audience.

I'm not quite as cool as I would like to be, really.

I have lots of fans, they are mostly under the age of 12, boys and girls.

If I was a star, it would be difficult to go off and do 'Coronation Street.' So I guess I'm not a star.

I don't really like being with people my own age for long periods, because all we talk about is our decrepitude, how the world is changing for the worse even though it isn't.

The spirit of the four hobbits in 'Lord of the Rings,' I suppose I miss that.

There is a fantasy as old as the modern gay rights movement that if all our skins turned lavender overnight, the majority, confounded by our numbers and our diversity, and recognising a few of our faces, would at once let go of prejudice forevermore.

I think with Shakespeare you can be required to do absolutely anything at the turn of a sixpence - suddenly you go into a battle, suddenly you utter something passionate.

I got intrigued by working in small theatres.

I love musicals; I love the ballet, opera, the circus. It's all performance to me.

I've always had very catholic tastes.

Before I ever acted as an amateur - which I did a great deal at school and at university - I used to go to the theater with my parents in the north of England, where I was born and brought up... Theater of all sorts.

It's my impression that I've done every job that I've been asked to do.

Shakespeare's villains are fabulous because none of them know that they are villains. Well, sometimes they do.

When we'd suggested doing it, the Theatre Royal management had said, 'Nobody wants to see Waiting for Godot.' As it happened, every single ticket was booked for every single performance, and this confirmation that our judgment was right was sweet. Audiences came to us from all over the world. It was amazing.

So it's joyful to me, in my 71st year, to be able to be in a play that is absolutely right for my age and my experience, and that is a popular success. What more could you ask as an actor?

The strength of British theatre should be that these actors in their middle years know what they're doing and are good at it. Not rich, not famous, but making a living.

Personally, coming out was one of the most important things I've ever done, lifting from my shoulders the millstone of lies that I hadn't even realized I was carrying.

I live for the text. It's my job.

Until I came out, my acting was all about disguise, and thereafter it became about telling the truth.

My ambition is to get better as an actor.

I was a shy gay man at a time when it was illegal to be gay.

If I say often enough that I'm going to be in 'King Kong,' I'm hoping that Peter Jackson will take the hint.

Gandalf saves the world and saves the soul of the world, really.

I owe a great deal to Harold Hobson, doyen drama critic of the 'U.K. Sunday Times,' who championed me as Shakespeare's Richard II at the 1969 Edinburgh Festival.

I quite like it when I'm on the Tube and people offer me their seat. Sometimes I take it. The other day I was offered a seat by a pregnant lady. I thought, 'That's going a bit far.'

Eventually, before I die, I hope to have written about every part I've played.

If we just made one movie, 'The Hobbit,' the fact is that all the fans, the eight-, nine- and 10-year-old boys, they would watch it 1,000 times. Now, they've got three films they can watch 1,000 times.

I'm an eccentric English actor, and there's a lot of us around.

I've always felt that 'X-Men' was about something serious. It wasn't just fantasy.

It's only fair that stable gay relationships of long standing should have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. I know the image of gay marriage is to some people horrific and ludicrous.

Gandalf's a good guy, and it's a good part. He says the right things, he believes the right things. An actor can have fun with it.

People who are truly horrible are often the most interesting people in the room. You look at them and just say, 'Why?'

Acting is a very personal process. It has to do with expressing your own personality, and discovering the character you're playing through your own experience - so we're all different.

Will I miss Gandalf? Well, I don't miss him, because people are constantly coming up to me mentioning him and talking about him, so I don't feel that I've lost contact.

I love working in New York.

No one seems to wash in Middle-earth.

There are deaths in public places on the grounds that the victim is gay.

Godot is whatever it is in life that you are waiting for: 'I'm waiting to win the lottery. I'm waiting to fall in love'. For me, as a child, it was Christmas. At least that eventually came.