It’s easy to do an impression of Ian McKellen, with recognizable, guttural vice that he uses whether he’s Gandalf or here in Gods and Monsters as James Whale. I have resented veteran actors for being too recognizable, that most of them can no longer disappear or change into a different way of looking or speaking. But why change what the audience expects from them.
James Whale is one of the male versions of Blanche Dubois, having the same vanity and nostalgia towards the successes of their youth. But he seems relaxed although his few years of has passed, finding different ways of expression and inspiration and making those new methods seem as healthy until we the audience realize that it’s not.
He’s also more aware of how others look at his age and sexuality, as James finds amusement at how he freaks younger men out. He’s also a mad scientist like the characters that real James Whale have directed on film, enforcing his monstrous, warped visions on the younger men, especially his gardener turned muse Clay Boone (Brendan Fraser before he got creepy himself). The way he treats Clay shows that he can’t maintain a stable and platonic partnering. But during the dissolution of James and Clay’s relationship, and despite Clay’s tears we never lose sympathy for the former.
(Give Ian McKellen a monstrous help by voting for him in Andrew’s Showdown)