A rich man still likes a freebie

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen
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Sir Ian McKellen is the 33rd richest man in the UK.

The actor, who grew up in Wigan, earned a whopping £9.5m last year, picking up big cheques for his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit films.

He was also the voice of a villain in Doctor Who at Christmas and he also gained a big fee for the latest X-Men film.

The 73-year-old climbed up the scale, as he was the 65th richest Brit the year before, earning £5m.

Sir Ian may be rich, but he has admitted to keeping a few souvenirs from a number of his projects.

He revealed the staff he used on screen in The Hobbit is kept in an unexpectedly normal place.

He told the Mail On Sunday’s live supplement: “At the end of ‘The Hobbit’ I was given Gandalf’s staff, which I keep with umbrellas and walking sticks, and Gandalf’s hat, which I keep in the basement.”

And it seems he prefers his props to awards ceremonies.

He explained: “I don’t like [them]. You have to be excited in case you’re called up, so you gear yourself up to be ready to perform and make a speech, and then if you’re not called up you feel stupid for having prepared yourself for something that hasn’t happened.

“There was one occasion when they said, ‘And the winner is ... ‘ and I stood up and it wasn’t me - I just felt so embarrassed.”

Meanwhile, Sir Ian has spoken passionately about work being needed to be done to build on the advances for gay equality, whilst at the University of Ulster.

He told an invited audience attending the first annual Chancellor’s Lecture held in the University of Ulster, he was privileged to receive an honorary doctorate from the University whose ethos he shared.

In a lecture which focussed on religious and homophobic prejudice and the difficulties faced by homosexuals for many decades, Dr McKellen paid tribute to Stonewall and other gay groups at home and abroad for their work to promote equality.

Dr McKellen said: “Thanks to every gay person in public and non-public life who has come out.

“Thanks most perhaps to the cherished national belief that an Englishman – and an Irishman’s – home is his castle and that the state has no business interfering in their bedrooms.

“Every rotten anti-gay law has been repealed, shaken down from the constitutional tree.”