Sir Ian McKellen’s career has been one of incredible variety, with the actor taking on countless Shakespearean stage roles and parts in Hollywood blockbusters.

Here, the Press Association looks at photos that have captured important moments in his career.

He is best known for playing the bearded wizard Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy. More recently, he has earned plaudits for his turn as King Lear at the Duke Of York’s  Theatre in London’s West End.

Since coming out as gay in 1988, Sir Ian has been an advocate of the pro-LGBT cause. Here he is speaking on the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Sir Ian McKellen marks decriminalisation of homosexuality anniversarySir Ian McKellen at the Old Royal Naval College in London (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Sir Ian may not have received a formal education in acting, but in 2013 he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Ulster. Here he is regaling students at the university.

Sir Ian McKellen honouredSir Ian McKellen at Ulster University (Ulster University/PA)

In 1999, Sir Ian was cast as the super-villain Magneto in the big screen adaption of the X-Men comic books. His turn as the sinister mutant introduced him to a new generation of fans.

Here he poses with co-stars Sir Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender at the premiere of X-Men Days of Future Past in 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Premiere – LondonSir Ian McKellen at the X-Men Days of Future Past UK premiere in London (Ian West/PA)

Here Sir Ian is introduced to the Prince of Wales alongside good friend Dame Judi Dench at Buckingham Palace. Also pictured is former Marks & Spencer chairman Andrew Stone and his wife.

PofW McKellen/DenchSir Ian McKellen at Buckingham Palace (Tony Harris/PA)

Sir Ian made an appearance during the Opening Ceremony of the London Paralympic Games 2012 as Prospero from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

London Paralympic Games – Day 0Sir Ian McKellen at the Olympic Stadium in London in 2012 (David Davies/PA)