Sir Ian McKellen says it is the ''greatest regret'' of his life that he didn't tell his parents he is gay.

The 'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' star didn't come out as gay until he was 48-years-old and he woefully regrets not telling his mum and dad about his sexuality.

He said: ''It's the greatest regret of my life that I didn't tell them. My mother died when I was 12 and my father when I was 24, so I didn't talk to either of them about it.''

And the 79-year-old star has urged actors who are worried about revealing their sexuality to just do it as he doesn't see the point in ''living a lie'' for the sake of their career.

Speaking on David Tennant Does A Podcast, he added: ''I feel sorry for them. I know they'd be happier if they did  ... What's so important about acting that you'd live a lie? How could being successful as an actor be compensation for that?''

Meanwhile, Ian previously defended his decision to keep his sexuality away from his parents, Denis and Margery, although he thinks they would have accepted that he was a gay man.

He shared: ''What my parents believed in was a Christian view of the world, a non-conformist view of the world in which people cared about each other, whether they knew them or not. They believed that people should always be treated with respect and sympathy, which is why I think if I had come out to my parents it might've been a surprise and a shock to them, but they would have accepted it. That's what I like to think.''