Sir Ian McKellen has fired back at remarks Homeland star Damian Lewis made in a British newspaper interview earlier this year (13), in which he appeared to poke fun at the revered thespian.

Lewis was asked about his career plans during a chat with The Guardian and said he didn't want to "end up" as "one of those slightly over-the-top, fruity actors who would have an illustrious career on stage, but wouldn't start getting any kind of film work until I was 50 and then start playing wizards".

The actor refused to name names but many readers were convinced he was taking aim at MCKellen, who played the wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings films.

MCKellen tells Radio Times magazine, "I'm very happy, he needn't worry about me.

"To rebut it, I wouldn't like to have been one of those actors who hit stardom quite early on and expected it to continue and was stuck doing scripts that I didn't particularly like just to keep the income up."

He adds, "I've always wanted to get better as an actor. And I have got better. You've only got to see my early work to see that... (And) to be allowed, for the first time in your later career, to play leading parts in extremely popular movies is not a situation to worry about."