By Andrea Towers
Updated July 20, 2015 at 03:20 PM EDT
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Actors often rely on real life experiences to help them in their craft and for Sir Ian McKellen, those experiences were deeply personal. In an episode of the WTF podcast, McKellen opened up to comedian Marc Maron about coming out, crediting that journey to helping his growth as a performer. Although the actor was confident about his sexuality he only came out publicly at the age of 49, and the reason behind the decision to do so was because of a British anti-gay law that the local government had passed that made it illegal to talk positively about homosexuality to minors.

McKellen told Maron that he took the law personally and “kicked the door open” by going on BBC radio to talk about his sexuality. “Everything in your life becomes better; all your relationships are improved,” McKellen said to Maron about coming out, citing that the experience not only made him a better actor but a “different” actor.

“Acting became no longer a release for emotions that I wasn’t allowed to have elsewhere in my life,” said McKellen. “I could never cry [on stage] before. … My acting was fake. My acting was disguise. Now, my acting is about revelation and truth. Everything’s better. So I can’t stop talking and telling people, ‘Come out, join the human race.'”