WATCH: Sir Ian McKellen: ‘I Preferred NYC When It Was Dirtier, More Dangerous’

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart on the Empire State Building in NYC. (Photo via Ian McKellen's Instagram)

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart on the Empire State Building in NYC. (Photo via Ian McKellen’s Instagram)

Two British knights, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart, are currently starring together in two different plays in previews on Broadway, but one of them isn’t happy with the transformation that has taken place in the theater district.

“I preferred it when it was a bit dirtier and bit more dangerous,” says Sir Ian who’s not a fan of the general sprucing up of the Broadway district and the considerable commercial development that’s taken place in the neighborhood.

He says, “Now it looks a little bit like Disneyland, that’s a pity. They’re brushing up the garbage in the streets every half hour. It’s a little like being indoors.”

But the British actor, who’s been appearing on the New York stage for decades, has no desire to see a reversion to the neglect that once existed in some parts of the city.

Speaking from a restaurant on the Bowery he said: “No one would wish for the return of the old Bowery where people were actually on their uppers and died of malnutrition.”

It’s a widely expressed view that Manhattan is increasingly becoming affordable only to the wealthy; Sir Ian McKellen seems to agree. He says: “Every area you go to now in Manhattan seems to have had its old identity rubbed off so that it can be a comfortable place for people with money to live safely. I daresay the action is out in Brooklyn and the Bronx and Queens and New Jersey. Whether I’ll have time to go and find it I don’t know.”

Both Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart can be seen in the plays Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land, which open on November 24.

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