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Ian McKellen Says He Doesn't Plan to Retire Anytime Soon: 'Why Shouldn't I Carry On?'

"I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now," McKellen, 84, quipped to Variety in a conversation surrounding his new thriller 'The Critic'

<p>John Phillips/Getty</p> Ian McKellen in London on Feb. 23, 2017

John Phillips/Getty

Ian McKellen in London on Feb. 23, 2017

When it comes to his screen career, Sir Ian McKellen isn't slowing down.

In an interview with Variety surrounding his new thriller The Critic, which premieres Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival, the 84-year-old British actor said of retiring, "Retire to do what?"

“I’ve never been out of work, but I’m aware that any minute now something could happen to me which could prevent me from ever working again," said McKellen, who's known for his decades-long body of work in theater, television and movies, including the Lord of the Rings franchise, the X-Men films, 2019's The Good Liar and more.

"But while the knees hold up and the memory remains intact, why shouldn’t I carry on? I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now," he quipped.

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<p>New Line/courtesy Everett Collection</p> From L: Ian McKellen in <em>The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King</em> (2003), <em>X-Men: The Last Stand</em> (2006) and <em>The Good Liar</em> (2019)

New Line/courtesy Everett Collection

From L: Ian McKellen in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and The Good Liar (2019)

Related: Harrison Ford Explains Why He Has No Plans to Retire from Acting: 'I Love to Feel Useful'

McKellen has been the recipient of numerous accolades over the course of his career, including a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award and six Olivier Awards. He has also earned two Oscar nominations, five Emmy nods and five BAFTA Award nominations.

As for how he views the projects he takes on, "Each play or movie stands by itself for me," he said. "And every time I begin with this terror of just ‘Here we go again, making the same mistakes.' "

Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Ian McKellen on Oct. 14, 1965
Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Ian McKellen on Oct. 14, 1965

Related: Ian McKellen's Life in Pictures

In The Critic, McKellen and Gemma Arterton star as adversaries in pre-WWII England, who are "forced to take desperate measures to save their careers," according to a synopsis from TIFF that calls the film a "scintillating tale of ambition and deceit in the theatre world."

Directed by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl, Leap Year), the thriller also stars Mark Strong, Ben Barnes, Alfred Enoch, Romola Garai and Lesley Manville.

McKellen will also star on stage in Frank and Percy at The Other Palace theater in London from Sept. 8 through Dec. 3, and noted in his conversation with Variety that a critic said in his review that the actor forgot his lines, after seeing an early preview of the show.

“Instead of understanding that this happens from time to time, this critic says it was evidence that it was time for Ian McKellen to stop acting,” said McKellen, who also said he was “insufficiently acquainted with the text" at the time of that performance.

“Maybe I should challenge this man to a podcast where we could debate it," he joked, before adding, “Perhaps that’s not a wise thing to do. “It might just draw more attention to it. After all, I’ve long ago made my peace with critics.”

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