Ian McKellen is one of those folks to whom I would happily listen as he read the proverbial phone book.
My first brush with His Lordship remains one of my favorite cinematic portrayals — Chauvelin from The Scarlett Pimpernel (1982) — and his voice is an enormous factor in that role; indeed, in any of his performances. Not particularly deep or stentorian, but so smooth. So mellow. And as clear as crystal.
Luckily, we’ve got a whole lot more of Sir Ian’s mellifluous abilities than a simple phone book. And my newest discovery (which I stumbled upon quite by accident while researching Richard III’s most recent foray into the (inter)national consciousness) is just the latest drop in the glorious bucket: StageworkMcKellen.com — a Flash-based exploration of Sir Ian’s thoughts on many things Richard III-related, presented in such a way that it feels a bit like a conversation.
The technical details can be a trifle cumbersome — how many times must I click on these questions to get a complete response? — but the man’s charismatic charm, his grasp over The Bard’s works, and his infectious enthusiasm for the material make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. McKellen’s analysis of the opening speech alone is worth the price of admission — Oh, wait. FREE! — and the comparisons of Olivier’s, his, and Nelson’s versions of that opening are a blast, as well. What a great little site.
Here’s a taste to whet your appetite: