By Michael Miller
April 05, 2016 at 08:29 PM EDT
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

This article originally appeared on

Ian McKellen is proving that you can’t put a price on privacy.

The Lord of the Rings actor reportedly returned a $1.4 million memoir advance to his would-be publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, last month, and now he’s explaining why.

“I put nine months aside to do it, and I got a very handsome advance. Then I sent the money back,” the Oscar-nominee, 76, said Sunday at the Oxford Literary Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It was a bit painful. I didn’t want to go back into my life and imagine things that I hadn’t understood so far,” McKellen explained. “The privacy of my life I don’t quite understand myself, and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. So there you go, I’m sorry.”

The award-winning actor is also known for his gay rights activism. He came out publicly at the age of 49 in 1988, and has expressed regret at not having come out sooner.

“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 in 2015.

He added, “I think I would have been a different person and a happier one.”