Homeland star Damian Lewis has apologised to Ian McKellen for comments he made during an interview, which did not mention the acting legend's name, but which appeared to reference his career.
The Guardian quoted Lewis as saying that he worried as a young actor that if he did not move on from theatre work: "I would be one of these 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."
In a statement, Lewis said: "I am hugely embarrassed that comments of mine have been linked in a negative way to Sir Ian McKellen. I have always been, and continue to be, an enormous fan and admirer of Sir Ian's."
Lewis continued: "He's one of the greats and one of the reasons I became an actor. My comment in the Guardian was a soundbite I've been giving since 1999 - it was a generic analogy that was never intended to demean or describe anyone else's career.
"I have contacted Sir Ian McKellen and have given him my sincerest apologies."
Before the apology was announced, McKellen had responded to Lewis' comments in a Radio Times interview by saying: "So he feels sorry for me, does he? Well I'm very happy, he needn't worry about me."
The Lord of the Rings star continued: "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.
"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.
"As for a fruity voice? Well, it may be a voice that is trained like an opera singer's voice: to fill a large space. It is unnatural. Actors have to be heard and their voice may therefore develop a sonorous quality that they can't quite get rid of, so you think actors are as pompous as their voice is large. I suppose Damian was thinking of that a little bit, too."