FACT CHECK: Did Ian McKellen Visit Ukraine in May 2022?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook allegedly shows British actor Ian McKellen visiting Lviv, Ukraine in May 2022.

Verdict: False

The picture was taken in London in 2021. McKellen confirmed on Twitter that he has not visited Lviv or Ukraine.

Fact Check:

Actress and U.N. humanitarian Angelina Jolie visited the city of Lviv in western Ukraine April 30 to speak with displaced Ukrainians and refugees, according to The Guardian. She allegedly promised “she would come again” to the city in the future, the outlet reported.

A post shared on Facebook May 1 claims McKellen also recently visited the city. The post includes a photo that shows the actor posing with a fan. “Gandalf (Sir Ian Murray McKellen) himself in Ukraine,” reads the post’s caption. “The picture below was taken in Lviv today.”

The picture predates the current Ukrainian conflict and was not taken in Lviv. A reverse image search revealed the photo was first shared on Facebook in November 2021 by a user named Maksym Bespalov. The location is tagged as The Grapes, a pub in London that McKellen owns, according to the Daily Mail.

Bespalov re-shared the picture April 30, several weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and tagged the location as the Drunk Cherry Pub in Lviv. This appears to have sparked the online rumor.

McKellen addressed the viral claim on Twitter shortly after the misleading post appeared.

“Despite reports and supposed photographs circulating online, I have not visited Lviv or elsewhere in Ukraine,” the tweet reads. (RELATED: Did Leonardo Dicaprio Donate $10 Million To Support Ukraine Through The International Visegrad Fund?)

In a reply to McKellen’s tweet, Bespalov apologized for his Facebook post and claimed it was a joke, saying, “It was my joke on FB, sorry. I also wrote about Bruce Lee, but medias published only a news about you.”

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter