Ian McKellen Blasts Donald Trump as 'One of the Worst Public Speakers Ever'

Ian McKellen reflects on the fading art of oratory

by Zain ul Abedin
Ian McKellen Blasts Donald Trump as 'One of the Worst Public Speakers Ever'
© Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Sir Ian McKellen, the venerable British actor renowned for portraying Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings series, recently expressed his bewilderment at Donald Trump's oratory skills, labeling him as "one of the worst public speakers there has ever been." In an interview with The Times of London, McKellen critiqued the former U.S.

President's public speaking abilities, despite never having seen him speak live. At 85, McKellen continues to grace the stage, currently embodying the role of Falstaff in the UK. His commentary extends beyond Trump, touching on the broader decline of oratory prowess in today's political landscape.

Reflecting on his own experiences, McKellen recounted the days when politicians like Aneurin Bevan, a noted 1950s Welsh Labour Party figure, captivated audiences without the aid of technology, a stark contrast to modern public speaking.

McKellen Critiques Modern Oratory

The actor’s critique extends to the current state of political communication, suggesting that contemporary politicians lack the reflective practice necessary to truly connect with their audience.

“They don’t spend enough time looking at themselves and saying, ‘Well, I didn’t believe that person,’” McKellen told The Times. Amidst his theatrical engagements, McKellen also discussed his selective process in choosing scripts, aware that any project at this career stage could be his last.

Yet, he remains open to reprising his iconic role as Gandalf in the upcoming The Hunt for Gollum, a project anticipated for a 2026 release under the direction of Andy Serkis and production by Peter Jackson. However, McKellen noted that there is "no script, no offer, no plan." McKellen's career spans over six decades, and his insights into both the performing arts and public discourse offer a unique perspective on the evolution of communication.

He emphasizes the lost art of powerful oratory that once defined leaders and enchanted listeners. His observations prompt a reflection on how public figures today might enhance their engagement with the public to foster a more inspired and believing audience.

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