Out British actor Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he never came out to his parents but believes they would have accepted him.

The 78-year-old McKellen, who first spoke publicly about his sexuality during an interview with the BBC in 1988, is best known for playing Gandalf in the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and Magneto in the X-Men films.

In an Attitude cover story, McKellen said that his parents would have been shocked by his sexuality but accepting.

“What my parents believed in was a Christian view of the world, a non-conformist view of the world in which people cared about each other, whether they knew them or not,” McKellen said.

“They believed that people should always be treated with respect and sympathy, which is why I think if I had come out to my parents it might've been a surprise and a shock to them, but they would have accepted it. That's what I like to think.”

“If being gay marks you as being different, in the sense that you are treated differently by other people, I was sort of fulfilling the man who my parents would've wanted me to be. Which is actually nothing to do with being gay,” he added.

(Related: Ian McKellen feature-length documentary in the works.)