When it comes to casting, Sir Ian McKellen doesn’t want to be put in a box.

In an interview with BBC2, the openly gay “Lord of the Rings” actor talked about the recent controversy around Dame Helen Mirren being cast as late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, despite not being Jewish.

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“There are two things – is the argument that a gentile cannot play a Jew, and is the argument therefore that a Jew cannot play a gentile?” McKellen questioned.

“Is the argument that a straight man cannot play a gay part,” he continued, “and if so, does that mean I can’t play straight parts and I’m not allowed to explore the fascinating subject of heterosexuality in Macbeth? Surely not. We’re acting. We’re pretending.”

McKellen added, “Now, are we capable of understanding what it is to be Jewish? Are we going to convince a Jewish audience that we’re Jewish? Perhaps we don’t need to because we are just acting.”

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Speaking recently to The Daily Mail, Mirren addressed the controversy directly, telling the outlet, “It was certainly a question that I had, before I accepted the role. [Meir] is a very important person in Israeli history.”

She added, “I said, ‘Look, Guy, I’m not Jewish, and if you want to think about that, and decide to go in a different direction, no hard feelings. I will absolutely understand.’”

In another interview with ITV she added, “I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had – it’s utterly legitimate.”