party chat

Ian McKellen Improvised a Song for Cogsworth on Beauty and the Beast

Helen Mirren/WOMAN IN GOLD Cocktail reception At Elyx House New York
Old Cogsworth! Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images

When the star-studded cast for Disney’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast was announced, it included some expected song-and-dance men (see: Ewan MacGregor) and also Ian McKellen, who plays Cogsworth the clock. Though he’s not known as a singer, Sir Ian was eager to sign up for the musical spectacular. “I’d never been in a musical, and certainly not a Disney musical,” McKellen told Vulture at a luncheon for his film Mr. Holmes, hosted by the Peggy Siegal Company. “So I think I did rather shamelessly say, ‘What’s my part?’ to [director Bill Condon]. And he said, ‘Well, you can play a clock.’” McKellen joked, “I have written my own song, but it didn’t make it in.” Then, though he had just described himself as not particularly musical, he improved a line or two of a possible Cogsworth solo for us. “My name is Cogsworth / And I’m a clock / Tick-tock,” he sang. “I call it Beauty and the Clock.”

Despite robbing us of a McKellen original, Bill Condon, who memorably worked with McKellen on Gods and Monsters, was enthusiastic about the actor’s performance. “He is completely, innately musical, which I suspected he would be, just having heard him recite Shakespeare,” said Condon. McKellen also has apparently been hiding his comedic timing. Condon recalled, “We did a read through of the show a month before we started shooting the script. And he came in, he just killed every line. It was like you’re in the presence of someone who’s done stand-up for 20 years.” Maybe he could do a musical stand-up routine?

McKellen Made Up a Song for Beauty and the Beast