Sir Ian McKellen has been honest and open about his sexuality since coming out twenty-seven years ago.

However, the actor recently explained why it took him so long to speak publicly about his sexuality, saying it was “the right time” for him to join the fight for LGBT rights.

“A law was being passed I didn’t approve of which disadvantaged gay people, and that’s when I came out,” McKellen told Charlie Rose last month.

“And it was just the right time for me, because, 49, I was confident as an actor, as a person. And I could organise a sentence and make a case and feel passionate about it.

“There was a part for me to play within the gay rights movement in the UK and I loved it, I relished it,” he added.

“Acting was involved of course, but acting the truth. And then I felt a better person all the way around.”

However, the star also admitted that he regrets not being “able to come out earlier”.

He goes on to say that he was not “brave” enough to do so – due to the anti-gay laws at the time.

“Everything in society was against people of my generation coming out, because it was against the law to make love,” he explained.

“So if every time you have sex you remind yourself you’re a criminal, that’s not something you necessarily want to talk about unless you’re a really, really strong and brave person which I wasn’t.”

“So I got on very comfortable with my life as an openly gay man without ever talking about it.

“And most people don’t have to but if you’re in the public eye there comes a time when it’s appropriate.”

The X-Men and Mr Holmes star recently responded to claims that gay actors are more successful when they stay in the closet.

“Do you want to be a famous movie star who has love scenes with ladies and in private be an unhappy gay?

“A closet’s a really nasty place to live, you know? It’s dirty, it’s dusty, it’s full of skeletons. You don’t want it. Open that door — fling it wide and be yourself.”

Watch his latest interview below.