The veteran British actor has built a stellar career on stage and screen with roles such as William Shakespeare's tragic kings MACbeth and Richard III, the villainous Magneto in the X-Men films and as the warrior wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movies.

And the 77-year-old star believes many of the characters he's most famous for playing share a common trait - they are all figures with a love of battle, something he detests.

"Gandalf is a soldier, Magneto is a soldier, Richard III, Coriolanus, MACbeth (are warlike characters)," he tells Britain's ES magazine. "And I think the reason is because I want my revenge on them all. The people who start wars, perpetuate them and glory in them."

The openly homosexual actor adds that he thinks gay men have a better understanding of masculinity than those who are aggressive.

"If that's what masculinity is then I don't want any part of it at all," he explains. "I think gay men are more masculine than straight men. Because, guess what? They love other men!"

Ian's hatred of war is shared by his great friend and X-Men co-star Patrick Stewart, who became a patron of the U.K. charity Combat Stress after discovering his father, a Second World War veteran suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. The charity helps military veterans with similar psychological issues.

The pair are set to team up again on the London stage for a production of Harold Pinter's play No Man's Land, opening at the British capital's Wyndham's Theatre on 8 September (16) after finishing a U.K. tour.

Ian and Patrick starred in a successful Broadway staging of the play in 2013 and 2014, when it was part of a double bill with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.