As he takes on the role of an iconic British character, the actor admits the film industry still fails to reflect real life.
McKellen On Hollywood Inequality
By Bethany Minelle, Sky News Producer
The British actor was speaking as he promoted his new film Mr Holmes, where he portrays Sherlock Holmes in his twilight years, with his power of deduction beginning to fail him.
But while the 76-year-old star may have no problem securing parts in his older years, he appreciates the film industry does not give everyone equal opportunities.
It comes after American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, 37, revealed last month that she was told she was too old to play the part of a 55-year-old man's lover.
Sir Ian portrays an older Holmes
"Don't look to Hollywood for social advance," he said.
"If you're a gay man don’t look to Hollywood to tell you the truth. If you’re a black person don’t look to Hollywood. If you’re a woman of course they get it wrong. It’s a fantasy world they're talking about.
"I do sympathise with people from any minority or section of society who feels that their story is not being told truthfully by either the factual or fictional media, but don’t depend on Hollywood to get it right. Absolutely not."
The Oscar-nominated star plays a 93-year-old Holmes in the film, based on the novel A Slight Trick Of The Mind, and admits he thinks about his own mortality daily.
"Decline is constantly on your mind. I relate to [Sherlock Holmes], not because I feel I'm getting decrepit, but friends die, mortality is ever present, and I don’t suppose a day goes by without my thinking about it.
"I think that’s true of anybody my age. One's not always pessimistic about it. Death may be a good friend when he arrives," he said.
Mr Holmes also stars Laura Linney and is in cinemas from 19 June.