'Homeland' Star Damian Lewis Apologizes To A-List Actor For 'Fruity' Remark

12/12/2013 12:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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"Homeland" star Damian Lewis has apologized after making a comment about not wanting to be a "fruity" actor -- a remark some thought was directed at Sir Ian McKellen.

It all began back in October when Lewis was discussing his past work in theater with the Guardian. After a while, he said, the theater life got to him.

"I don't know. It might mean that at heart I'm quite conventional," he told the outlet at the time. "Maybe yearning for something that was a bit more structured. But, of course, preferable to getting on the tube at [7 a.m.] to go to an office and turn in a full solid day... The idea that I would be one of these slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards."

After the interview was published, Lewis' "fruity" remark was linked to McKellen. The 74-year-old openly gay actor started in theater before gaining international blockbuster fame with the role of Gandalf in 2001's "Lord of the Rings."

McKellen responded to Lewis' comments while speaking with the Radio Times for its Christmas edition. “So he feels sorry for me, does he? Well I'm very happy, he needn't worry about me," he said.

Per the Independent, he continued: “To rebut it: I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up. I've always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You've only got to see my early work to see that."

He attributed his "fruity" voice to having been trained to get his voice to fill up a room, similar to that of an opera singer.

On Wednesday, Lewis issued a statement apologizing to McKellen. Via the Guardian:

I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 – it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career. I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies.

The "Hobbit" star took it all in stride and tweeted about the incident Thursday.

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