Damian Lewis has told of his "huge embarrassment" at offending Sir Ian McKellen after saying he did not want to become a "fruity actor" known for playing wizards.

The Homeland star, 42, released a statement proclaiming himself "an enormous fan" of the Gandalf actor and assuring that his comments were little more than a "generic analogy".

"I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen," the statement read.

"I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's. He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor.


"My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 - it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career," Lewis wrote.

The actor has contacted McKellen directly to offer his "sincerest apologies".

Lewis did not mention any names during the interview but voiced his intention never to become "one of these 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 later in life.

McKellen, one of Britain's leading actors, then told Radio Times that the younger star "needn't worry" about his career, adding that he is "very happy".

"To rebut [Lewis' comment], 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," the Lord of the Rings star said.

"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."

The 74-year old appeared in the news recently after he was advised by the Foreign Office not to go to Russia as a homosexual because of the nation's strict laws banning gay rights propaganda.

- Independent