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    Ian McKellen Responds to Damian Lewis' "Fruity Actor" Slam, Says He Sympathizes With Gay Hollywood

    Ian McKellen, Damian Lewis WireImage

    Sir Ian McKellen is speaking out after Damian Lewis appeared to throw some serious shade on the actor.

    The Homeland star recently gave an interview in The Guardian saying that in the beginning of his career he worried that he would end up being "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 [he] was 50 and then start playing wizards."

    And while Lewis didn't name names, it didn't take a wizard to guess who he might be talking about.

    McKellen, aka Gandalf, responded, telling the Radio Times, "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."

    Oh, snap!

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    "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," McKellen said.

    "As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer's voice: to fill a large space."

    The Hobbit star then threw this little dig at the Band of Brothers Brit, saying, "No one needs to feel sorry for me…or anyone else who has fallen victim to success."

    But it was Lewis' "fruity" dig that really ruffled a few of McKellen's feathers.

    WATCH: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer

    The 74-year-old, who came out as gay in 1988, explained that he had sympathy for those in Hollywood who remain in the closet.

    "It's true of A-lists all over the world—A-list priests, A-list politicians. What will people think? Will people still vote for me? Will people come see me act?" he said.

    "They're warned by the people who surround them— agents and managers, who have a living to make and are worried that the actor will get pigeonholed.

    "I don't think the audience gives a damn…You don't have to be straight to play Gandalf. Anyway, who says that Gandalf isn't gay? I loved it when J.K. Rowling said that Dumbledore was gay."

    UPDATE: Lewis released the following statement via his rep to E! News: 

    "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 sound bite 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."

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