The Two Sirs, both knighted by Queen Elizabeth, met in the 1970s in the Royal Shakespeare Company, where McKellen was already playing the great parts.
Stewart, who worshipped him, found him to be, well, intimidating.
Was he austere, Stahl asked?
"In my glimpses of him in the green room at Stratford, a certain aloofness or austerity about him, which I know — you see this charming, smiling man now — will seem unbelievable to you. But he was younger."
He’s softened? Mellowed?
"Yes, yes, of course," said McKellen. "I think I’ve become more modest as the years have gone on. I’ve become less — "
Cough! Cough! ”Excuse me … Oh God, I’m really sorry,” said Stewart. “I think I need a strong drink or something!
"That was a dreadful bit of overacting," said McKellen. "Well, they do that in Yorkshire."
(More of the interview at the source.)