Sir Ian McKellen has claimed that gay men are more masculine than straight guys are.

He made the comments in a joint interview with X-Men co-star Sir Patrick Stewart for the London Evening Standard’s ES Magazine.

The veteran gay actor said: “I think gay men are more masculine than straight men. Because, guess what? They love other men! So when bully boys say: ‘Faggot!’ you say, ‘That’s right, I’m with the boys’.”

He also addressed his long-running ‘bromance’ with Sir Patrick. Though Stewart is straight and married, the pair are incredibly close – locking lips at premieres and enjoying romantic getaways.

Sir Patrick said: “I know that I’m in a love affair with Ian.”

McKellen added: “What I love about Patrick is that he’s so predictably myself. I think we are the same person.

“If Patrick comes into a rehearsal room and says, ‘Look, look…’ I know what it’s going to be about… Mind you, I think Derek Jacobi is trying to be the third at the party.”

The pair also discussed their fears over Brexit.

Sir Ian said: “Everything that’s good about being British is related to Europe. Our whole way of thinking, our careful literacy, the Renaissance concept of the individual – it’s all a European idea.”

However, the actor – who co-founded Stonewall – remains as ready as ever to fight if Brexit leads to a growth in intolerance towards LGBT people.

He said:”Well, if so, those little people, they’d just better watch out.”

Read the full interview in this week’s ES Magazine, available now