Sir Ian McKellen, knight of both the stage and the silver screen, venerated deliverer of immortal lines from the Bard himself, is to take a role in a low-budget zombie movie.
Also known for his roles in Lord of the Rings and X Men, McKellen has been cast as “a member of the undead” in E’gad Zombies!, a black comedy set in the 18th century, reports the Independent
His decision to take on the role is causing a stir at the Cannes Film Festival.
McKellen – currently being seen on British TV screens as the mysterious and menacing Two in the reimagining of the sixties cult series The Prisoner – is not averse to the idea of taking on unexpected roles. He dragged up and played Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Old Vic in 2004.
McKellen will juggle his role in the zombies movie with that of Gandalf – whom he played to high critical acclaim in Lord of the Rings – in the Rings prequel, The Hobbit.
Of the new film, the Independent says: “The drama revolves around an unidentified illness which turns all of the men into beasts. After the country is infested by zombies and the government is too bankrupt to control the contagion, two entrepreneurs set up a company offering to kill the undead for a nominal fee.”
The action is set in the Oxfordshire town of Upper Trollop and features a poet called William Filthe, played by Matthew Butler, who is also the project’s director.
Only a fraction of the feature film – 22 minutes – has been made so far, says the Independent, but it has “become a viral sensation” on YouTube (see clip at top of story) and is being talked about enthusiastically at Cannes. “We put a clip of the short on YouTube and suddenly we were getting emails from all over the world saying, ‘When are you going to make it into a film?’ ” said Butler.