Sir Ian McKellen has paid tribute to Brad Renfro, his Apt Pupil co-star, who was found dead this week.

McKellen acted alongside a 15-year-old Renfro in the 1998 movie, an adaptation of the Stephen King novella which tells of the relationship between a troubled teenager and a Nazi war criminal in hiding.

The young actor's body was found in a Los Angeles apartment this week with local police stating that the cause of the 25-year-old's death could have been a drug overdose, when his previous substance abuse problems are taken into account.

Writing on his blog, Oscar-nominee McKellen reminisced about his working relationship with Renfro.

"I first caught sight of Brad Renfro when he was kicking a football around with Bryan Singer on the half-built set of Apt Pupil in Hollywood. He was a kid having fun and that's how I shall always remember him," he writes.

"But he was more than that. He was a proper actor and when we worked together he was determined to be accepted as such.

"On set, he was blusteringly confident although it was obvious he would have benefited from training as an actor. Yet, as Todd, the Disturbed teenager in Apt Pupil, he tapped into an inner demonic world and carried the film on his young shoulders," he added.

The Lord Of The Rings star fondly recalls a "magical evening" spent with Renfro at the youngster's home in the Hollywood Hills, during which the pair discussed music, cinema, and Renfro's desire to direct.

McKellen added: "He longed to belong in the alien world which perhaps in the end overwhelmed him. He was only 25 and it is dreadful we shan't see all that he might have achieved."

18/01/2008 11:12:45