The 'Lord of the Rings' actor is grateful to come clean about his sexuality in his 40s because it made his relationships with family and friends get better.

AceShowbiz - Ian McKellen never got the chance to tell his parents he was gay as they both passed away when he was young.

The "Lord of the Rings" actor has been open about his sexuality since 1988 but, speaking on Britain's "The Jonathan Ross Show", he confessed that, after losing his mother Margery when he was 12 and his father Denis at 22, he was unable to speak to them about his sexuality.

Asked by Jonathan if he was close with his parents, Ian said, "As close as you can be when your mother dies at 12 and dad dies when you're 22."

"Never told them I was gay for example. Didn't see me do any of my best work. But I remember them with nothing but pleasure."

Ian was raised in a religious household and didn't come out about his sexuality until he was in his 40s, which he admitted made his relationships with his family and friends much better as he wasn't "hiding anymore."

"I never stopped talking about it since. Made up for lost time. It changes your life utterly… I discovered myself. And everything was better," added the star.

"My relationships with my family, with friends, with strangers, and my work got better as I wasn't hiding anymore."

"Up to that point, my acting had really been about disguise and then when I could feel I was myself, it came about telling the truth, which was much more interesting."

And when asked if he gives advice about coming out, Ian added, "I keep giving them advice and saying, 'Oh come on, join the modern world, it's not the same. You won't get put in prison.' "

"That was my dilemma when I was a kid, if I'd said I was openly gay I could have risked being prosecuted. That's not true anymore. We have very good laws in this country."

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