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Sir Ian Mckellen has fired back at remarks "Homeland" star Damian Lewis made in a British newspaper interview earlier this year, in which he appeared to poke fun at the revered thespian.

Lewis was asked about his career plans during a chat with the Guardian and said he didn't want to "end up" as "one of those 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".

The actor refused to name names, but many readers were convinced he was taking aim at McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" films.

McKellen gracefully brushed off the remarks, telling Radio Times magazine, "I'm very happy. He needn't worry about me.

"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."

Added McKellen, "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. It is unnatural. Actors have to be heard and their voice may therefore develop a sonorous quality that they can't quite get rid of, so you think actors are as pompous as their voice is large. I suppose Damian was thinking of that a little bit, too."

Besides, he says, "To be allowed, for the first time in your later career, to play leading parts in extremely popular movies, is not a situation to worry about. No one needs to feel sorry for me or Michael Gambon [Professor Dumbledore in the 'Harry Potter' movies] or anyone else who has fallen victim to success."

Meanwhile, Sir Ian, who came out in 1998, also said he sympathizes with actors who keep their sexuality under wraps: "They're warned by the people who surround them ... 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."