You're playing Gandalf again in The Hobbit. If Tolkien were alive, what would you ask him?
Well, I don't know. He is of a time gone by. Would he still be smoking today? Would he be the sort of Catholic who wouldn't understand why someone like me would be openly gay and think myself God's creature as he was?
Anything you'd ask him about Gandalf?
We could imagine what he hadn't already revealed. Gandalf must be awfully frustrated sexually. Or maybe after 7,000 years, it doesn't matter anymore.
You've long been highly regarded in the theater. At some point you also became a movie star. Was that a deliberate choice on your part?
It was chance and luck. [I'd been] doing Richard III for many weeks, months, around the world onstage. Then it occurred to me it might make a very good film. I wrote the screenplay and produced it. And I think it was the first time film people thought, Oh, he could be one of us. He's not someone who just shouts in the evening.
Is there a playwright you don't like?
Agatha Christie. I've done a couple of her plays misery, rubbish. No sense of what human beings are at all.
You've been a longtime advocate for gay rights. Had it been legal, would you have liked to marry?
I always thought the one advantage of being gay was that you didn't have to get married. But who knows? If someone gets down on one knee and asks me, it might be irresistible.
Do you still rip Leviticus 18 out of hotel Bibles?
Yes. And I have people who send me the page, tied together, saying, 'If you want to hang that up in the smallest room in the house, that'll do.'
You were an early blogger. What made you start?
I'm told I invented blogging, but I called it e-posts. I kept a regular diary when we were doing Lord of the Rings because so many people were interested in the films.
Speaking of social media, you recently crossed swords with New Zealand's Prime Minister and the Moscow mayor. Why?
They'd both done stupid things in Moscow, banning a gay-pride march, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand carelessly used the word gay to mean weird, odd. He said, "I'm only using the word in the way my kids use it," not understanding his responsibility as a parent would be to point out to his kids that it's a rather cruel use of the word.
Are you excited about the new member of the royal family?
I don't feel that strongly about the royal family, but it is a matter of constant fascination that we are subjects we are not citizens. Our national anthem is not in praise of the country but of the reigning monarch. So, easy to see how that is unhelpful in a democracy. And yet the Brits seem to be at ease with the situation.
Gandalf says Bilbo will surprise people. What has most surprised you about yourself?
I'm not surprised but disappointed that I haven't become more assertive. When I started out, I supposed that by this time I would be a bit wiser.