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Ian McKellen apologizes for comments on Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey

Actor Ian McKellen attends the Rome Film Festival

Actor Ian McKellen attends the Rome Film Festival on Nov. 1, 2017. Credit: AP / Andrew Medichini

Acclaimed English actor Ian McKellen has apologized for remarks he made during a live interview, in which he suggested that filmmaker Bryan Singer and actor Kevin Spacey, both accused of sexual misconduct with same-sex victims, might have behaved differently had they not been closeted.

"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," McKellen, 79, tweeted Saturday, following an interview onstage at London's University of Westminster for a podcast, which was posted to YouTube on Feb. 23 but garnered little notice until days later.

"My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing, to be proud and open about their sexuality," the two-time Oscar-nominee went on. "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."

He added, "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."

McKellen had told interviewer Evan Davis, who had named Singer and Spacey as examples of gay men accused as part of the #MeToo movement, that, "With the couple of names you mention, of people I've worked with, both of them were in the closet, and hence all their problems as people and their relationship[s] 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."

Singer, who directed McKellen in "Apt Pupil" (1998) and the superhero movies "X-Men" (2000) and “X2" (2003), has denied allegations against him, including accusations of sexual assault on minors. Spacey in 2017 apologized for decades-old behavior he said he did not remember, and, separately, has pleaded not guilty in a Massachusetts sex assault case.

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