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For Sir Ian McKellen, coming out not only made him happier—it also made him a better actor.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the actor discussed the experience of coming out to both his family (“nobody gave a damn!”) as well as the media, saying his emotions became much “freer.”

“I think up to that point, I had been using acting as a disguise—somewhere where I could express my emotions, and draw attention to myself in a way that I didn’t particularly want to do in real life,” McKellen told the Huffington Post. “Acting became not about disguise, but about telling the truth. And my emotions became much freer. I was able to act better as I think you are able to do any job. Everyone’s better if they’re being honest.”

According to the actor, his film career took off after he came out, citing his role in Gods and Monsters as one of the first to garner public attention. In the film, McKellen played the role of director James Whale, who was gay.

“I regret and always shall that I didn’t see the significance of coming out at a much earlier date because I think I would have been a different person and a happier one,” the actor said. “Self-confidence is the most important thing that anybody can have. You don’t have that if part of you is ashamed or hiding something. I can reassure people who don’t feel they’re able to, the world will like you better because people like honesty and authenticity.”

According to the publication, McKellen is set to receive the Trevor Project’s Trevor Hero Award and will also serve as one of four Grand Marshals during New York City’s Pride celebration later this month.

For more on the interview with McKellen, including what advice he would offer to struggling LGBTQ youths, head on over to the Huffington Post.