Ian McKellen Almost Ditched Playing Gandalf in The Hobbit Movie

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Ian McKellen Almost Ditched Playing Gandalf in The Hobbit Movie

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The 72 year-old Ian McKellen almost abandoned his legacy as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings films before finally deciding to appear in The Hobbit movie.

I know that you were all holding your breath. After we reported that Elijah Wood had signed a contract to reprise his role as Middle-Earth's second favorite hobbit in Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's prequel to The Lord of the Rings, I'm sure that a few of you were nervous. What about Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey? Would the film have the same thematic feel if a different person played the iconic wizard as he guides Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven counterparts to the Misty Mountain? Then there's the little ring junkie himself. Andy Serkis basically patented his motion capture voice acting combo to bring the creeping Gollum to life. Would The Hobbit be the perfect start to the LOTR story if some other dude was behind Gollum's huge CGI eyes?

Well, have no fear. According to the Hollywood Reporter, both Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis will be joining the cast and crew as filming begins next month in New Zealand. But it almost didn't happen.

McKellen wrote on his personal blog that he considered taking the role for a long time, and as Peter Jackson's union troubles and delays in filming mounted, he was concerned that the time commitment was too lengthy. Was it more important for him to be known as Gandalf or for him to play a new and exciting role, perhaps on the stage?

"I kept wondering: was Gandalf what I most wanted to do, more than a new play for instance or indeed a new part? Sequels aren't necessarily as rewarding to act in as their originals," McKellen wrote. He thought about whether his legacy as Gandalf was already secure or if his legacy even mattered at all. "Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did? Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?" McKellen is of course referring to that other great old wizard, and the fact that Gambon inherited the role from Richard Harris after the first actor passed away following the second Harry Potter film.

Eventually, McKellen made the decision based on Jackson's filming schedule being flexible. "The deciding negotiation was not about money but about dates. Gandalf is needed on set over the next 18 months but with sizeable breaks when I can work on other projects. My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted," he wrote. "I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21 2011."

Peter Jackson seems very willing to realign his schedule to accomodate the actors that he needs, as he had to do the same for Martin Freeman so that the Englishman playing Bilbo Baggins could return to the BBC for his commitment on Sherlock.

As for Andy Serkis, it appears that his work on Ninja Theory's game Enslaved is over and that he is able to fly out to New Zealand for enough time to shoot the small but pivotal scene featuring Gollum in the The Hobbit. Riddle in the dark, anyone?

With Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom on board to play roles that aren't technically in The Hobbit, all that's left is for Hugo Weaving to sign on as Elrond and I think the film will be complete. I'd also love to see Christopher Lee reprise his role as Saruman the White, but that might just be wishful thinking as the 88 year old actor is far too busy working on his burgeoning career as a heavy metal singer.

Source: Hollywood Reporter and McKellen.com

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This is good news.

Very good news.

They better be good with the makeup.. else it's gonna look like Gandalf is ageing backwards.
Oh, and if Ian McKellen decides he can't just hang around waiting forever, can we get Patrick Stewart to play Gandalf?

...Make it so. :D

So it actually is going to be filmed, then?

It seems it changes every few days.

Well the way the headline is put it sounds like he was thinking "Oh, fuck Gandalf!" but the fact of the matter is Ian McKellen has to pay the bills and get shit done. He can't just hang around waiting for a future date that is yet to be determined.

in my eyes there is no other Gandalf so im relieved to hear that! Ian McKellen is a badass.

I'm very happy t hear this and I'm looking forward to seeing these movies :D

ADIT: You know what I appreciate? That Peter Jackson seems pretty dedicated to get the actors he needs for this movie to work. I'm sure there are others dying to play Gandalf but Jackson's the kind of guy who'd rather work around issues than completely ignore them. Props for that.

Oh HELL FUCKING YES!!!

WE GOT GANDALF BACK! THIS MOVIE WILL ROCK!

Hm, I thought Sir Ian had already agreed to reprise his role, although obviously all the delays cast some doubt over that.

So, we've got Frodo, Galadriel, and Legolas all appearing in The Hobbit, eh? Hopefully Jackson & Co. will save some room for characters that were actually in the story.

what in the hell is Orlando Bloom doing in this? such a major buzz kill. I never wanted to see him in another movie for a long long time. as The Spoony one says, and I agree, the guy is a huge wet blanket. Anyway, I'm thrilled that Sir Ian Mckellen is in this. That probably would have made this movie broken if he wasn't. So thank heaven's for that.

Greg Tito:

With Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom on board to play roles that aren't technically in The Hobbit, all that's left is for Hugo Weaving to sign on as Elrond and I think the film will be complete. I'd also love to see Christopher Lee reprise his role as Saruman the White, but that might just be wishful thinking as the 88 year old actor is far too busy working on his burgeoning career as a heavy metal singer.

Source: Hollywood Reporter and McKellen.com

Permalink

Great news, but Christophe Lee won't be appearing simply because he is too old to travel. He's already mentioned it somewhere, I believe I read it here but I could be wrong.

So much for casting some people of color.

Ah no, Orlando Bloom? Let's hope it's just a small part.

Good to see Ian McKellen is back, Gandalf was always my favourite character.

Christopher Lee is 88 Years old O.o

JDKJ:
So much for casting some people of color.

http://tinyurl.com/4ggt2zb

I, for one, am glad there's no affirmative-action type stuff going on with the casting. A high-fantasy movie based on a book written by an Oxford professor who was born in the 19th century is not the place to start worrying about ethnic diversity.

The Lord of the Rings was so well cast that it would be a shame for the actors who's characters are in both LotR and The Hobbit to bail. I was wondering why McKellen was so quick to sign up to that Aussie union's boycott, turns out he didn't actually care too much about the part at that stage.

A shame about Lee not acting so much any more. The guy's a certifiable badass. Even in the fictional world where Chuck Norris is a badass Christopher Lee could kick his ass with only his eyebrows.

Thank all that is perceived as holy, dodged a bullet there. although i would love to see gandalf played by Brian Blessed, its definatly good news.

Casual Shinji:
Ah no, Orlando Bloom? Let's hope it's just a small part.

It was already reported that he's reprising the role of Legolas. Not a cameo appearance, but not a starring role either. I'd imagine that means he'll be there during the days the party is at Rivendell.

I bet a lot of out-of-work actors are pulling their hair out listening to Ian. How many men trying to make it in a commercial, let alone a TV show or feature film, would give one of their testicles to play Gandalf for 18 months in THE HOBBIT?

Sometimes I wonder if the people involved in the filmmaking understand just how big this is. To me, I like the LotR books, but The Hobbit was always my primary love. The only reason it wasn't made first was it doesn't fit into a 3 act movie at ALL... The solution to split it into two padded-out movies could only be made when the filmmakers could write their own ticket.

I wish them good luck, but remain skeptical. As far as stories go, it doesn't get cloesr to my heart than the Hobbit.

Brilliant news! It wouldn't be the same without Ian McKellen. All I want now is for a gratuitous Eomer appearance. What a bad-ass mothe- I mean what a bad-ass so-and-so that man is.

SIR Christopher Frank 'Fucking' Carandini Lee is not concerned by such puny things as old age. I'll be surprised if he doesn't do it.

I just wish Elijah Wood wasn't in the movie. I find him to be such an irritating actor.

Thank God McKellen is doing it tho because he is an amazing actor.

Those are rather good news.

But I still haven't got over the fact that Jackson replaced Del Toro as the director of the movie!
that's some bullshit, I tell you. It should've been...

Pilkingtube:
They better be good with the makeup.. else it's gonna look like Gandalf is ageing backwards.

I could tell you that Gandalf isn't just an old guy who does magic. He's a maia, kind of a semi-god. Without getting into to that too deeply... he has just chosen the form of this old man with a poor posture. Also, he's so very old that, the time between Bilbo leaves his house to go holler at Smaug and Frodo sees the first glimpse of The Mountain of Doom, is just a brief moment, when talking about aging. Which he doesn't actually do.

MC K-Mac:
So, we've got Frodo, Galadriel, and Legolas all appearing in The Hobbit, eh? Hopefully Jackson & Co. will save some room for characters that were actually in the story.

Indeed... I'll be shaking my head until the movie comes out.

adderseal:
Brilliant news! It wouldn't be the same without Ian McKellen. All I want now is for a gratuitous Eomer appearance. What a bad-ass mothe- I mean what a bad-ass so-and-so that man is.

Well, Éomer has absolutely nothing to do with The Hobbit. In fact, if I'm not completely wrong, he wasn't even born then.

benzooka:

adderseal:
Brilliant news! It wouldn't be the same without Ian McKellen. All I want now is for a gratuitous Eomer appearance. What a bad-ass mothe- I mean what a bad-ass so-and-so that man is.

Well, Éomer has absolutely nothing to do with The Hobbit. In fact, if I'm not completely wrong, he wasn't even born then.

I know, that's why I said I wanted a gratuitous reference. He's got nothing to do with it but I'm hoping they'll squeeze him in just because he's awesome.

Sennz0r:
I'm very happy t hear this and I'm looking forward to seeing these movies :D

ADIT: You know what I appreciate? That Peter Jackson seems pretty dedicated to get the actors he needs for this movie to work. I'm sure there are others dying to play Gandalf but Jackson's the kind of guy who'd rather work around issues than completely ignore them. Props for that.

Everyone would rather work around issues instead of solving them. We call this ignoring. :P

MC K-Mac:

JDKJ:
So much for casting some people of color.

http://tinyurl.com/4ggt2zb

I, for one, am glad there's no affirmative-action type stuff going on with the casting. A high-fantasy movie based on a book written by an Oxford professor who was born in the 19th century is not the place to start worrying about ethnic diversity.

This. They are not going to ruin my Hobbit by putting in a black guy with a Mexican accent just so you politically correct people can feel good about yourselves.

Although they could always slide something in. I mean hell, they're printing Huckleberry Finn without the word "nigger".

adderseal:

benzooka:

adderseal:
Brilliant news! It wouldn't be the same without Ian McKellen. All I want now is for a gratuitous Eomer appearance. What a bad-ass mothe- I mean what a bad-ass so-and-so that man is.

Well, Éomer has absolutely nothing to do with The Hobbit. In fact, if I'm not completely wrong, he wasn't even born then.

I know, that's why I said I wanted a gratuitous reference. He's got nothing to do with it but I'm hoping they'll squeeze him in just because he's awesome.

Well, when they make the next LotR movies to fill in everything they missed, maybe they can do some more Éomer. :P

Littaly:
Christopher Lee is 88 Years old O.o

I was also very surprised by this!

I'm glad Ian McKellen is still playing Gandalf, no-one else could do it better!

adderseal:

benzooka:

adderseal:
Brilliant news! It wouldn't be the same without Ian McKellen. All I want now is for a gratuitous Eomer appearance. What a bad-ass mothe- I mean what a bad-ass so-and-so that man is.

Well, Éomer has absolutely nothing to do with The Hobbit. In fact, if I'm not completely wrong, he wasn't even born then.

I know, that's why I said I wanted a gratuitous reference. He's got nothing to do with it but I'm hoping they'll squeeze him in just because he's awesome.

For the one time I don't check a word with Google's define:* and go on with thinking it means something it actually doesn't. So pardon for my lousy grammar skills there.

I'd still like the movie to be as accurate it can be, even though it will always be the result of few persons' interpretations.

I think of The Lord Of The Rings movies as barely adequate tributes to the books, and if I had a say in it, The Hobbit would only include the characters that actually appear in the book.

I still got your point, but happen to view these things from a different perspective.

benzooka:

adderseal:

benzooka:

Well, Éomer has absolutely nothing to do with The Hobbit. In fact, if I'm not completely wrong, he wasn't even born then.

I know, that's why I said I wanted a gratuitous reference. He's got nothing to do with it but I'm hoping they'll squeeze him in just because he's awesome.

For the one time I don't check a word with Google's define:* and go on with thinking it means something it actually doesn't. So pardon for my lousy grammar skills there.

I'd still like the movie to be as accurate it can be, even though it will always be the result of few persons' interpretations.

I think of The Lord Of The Rings movies as barely adequate tributes to the books, and if I had a say in it, The Hobbit would only include the characters that actually appear in the book.

I still got your point, but happen to view these things from a different perspective.

Oh definitely, I'm reading the books at the minute and there's an awful lot the movies missed. Although I suppose there would have been about six films if absolutely everything had been put in!
I agree with you on The Hobbit, maybe now that LOTR has been such a mainstream success Jackson's not under much pressure to make a shit-ton of money like last time...or maybe he is, who knows. It's usually because of the producers that films leave you with a sense of what might have been.

Greg Tito:
Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?"

I love Ian McKellen and he's a brilliant actor but if he is stupid enough to believe that many people (and by that I mean at least myself for only my opinion matters) were very sad to see Michael Gambon replace Richard Harris. The changes he made to the character and the fact that he admitted to media sources he had not read the books and felt he didn't need to greatly angered me. I still do not accept Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. In fact I wish that McKellen had been chosen and taken the role on instead. I am very happy that McKellen made the right decision and returned because I doubt that anyone else could play Gandalf with 1/1000th the skill that he has.

jpakaferrari:

I love Ian McKellen and he's a brilliant actor but if he is stupid enough to believe that many people (and by that I mean at least myself for only my opinion matters) were very sad to see Michael Gambon replace Richard Harris. The changes he made to the character and the fact that he admitted to media sources he had not read the books and felt he didn't need to greatly angered me. I still do not accept Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. In fact I wish that McKellen had been chosen and taken the role on instead. I am very happy that McKellen made the right decision and returned because I doubt that anyone else could play Gandalf with 1/1000th the skill that he has.

I think Michael Gambon has done a fantastic job playing Dumbledore and has only served the purpose of making Harris' performance in the first two movies a wonderful contrast to the mood direction the series takes starting with the third movie/book. Read the books or not his performance has been exemplary. If you want to get all picky about the continuity of the films you can just imagine that after year two Dumbledore decided to get his beard under control, did something about his chronic hoarse voice, and took a level in badss.

More on topic: Reading this made me wonder how awesome it must be to hold negotiations with McKellen over anything because he's always going to sound like Gandalf or Magneto. If I were Jackson I would purposely make sure the contract negotiator at the meetings with him was named Charles just so I could hear him say "Come now Charles you're being unreasonable."

It really bums me out when I think how all the actors and actresses with these really great speaking voices (like McKellen, Lee, and Anthony Hopkins) are all usually old as dirt and will be gone probably within the next decade or two.

pacati:

It was already reported that he's reprising the role of Legolas. Not a cameo appearance, but not a starring role either. I'd imagine that means he'll be there during the days the party is at Rivendell.

Legolas was the son of Thranduil, the king of the wood elves that imprison Thorin and the Dwarves on the west side of Mirkwood. So I assume that Orlando Bloom would be seen there and not in Rivendell.

adderseal:

benzooka:

adderseal:

I know, that's why I said I wanted a gratuitous reference. He's got nothing to do with it but I'm hoping they'll squeeze him in just because he's awesome.

For the one time I don't check a word with Google's define:* and go on with thinking it means something it actually doesn't. So pardon for my lousy grammar skills there.

I'd still like the movie to be as accurate it can be, even though it will always be the result of few persons' interpretations.

I think of The Lord Of The Rings movies as barely adequate tributes to the books, and if I had a say in it, The Hobbit would only include the characters that actually appear in the book.

I still got your point, but happen to view these things from a different perspective.

Oh definitely, I'm reading the books at the minute and there's an awful lot the movies missed. Although I suppose there would have been about six films if absolutely everything had been put in!
I agree with you on The Hobbit, maybe now that LOTR has been such a mainstream success Jackson's not under much pressure to make a shit-ton of money like last time...or maybe he is, who knows. It's usually because of the producers that films leave you with a sense of what might have been.

Exactly. One might make a movie about even any of the dozens of chapters of the trilogy. Movies have such restrictions in comparison to books like these.

Guillermo del Toro should have been the one to direct The Hobbit, as they announced in some point. He did Pan's Labyrinth and the directing, atmosphere and visual offering was something along those lines that, I think, would fit The Hobbit quite well.

It's interesting to see what kind of a movie it will be. The name and the trilogy's fame and success should already bring them several shit-tons of money, but yeah, you never know. If there's even more money to be made... and all that wonderful stuff.

I'm planning to begin The Hobbit, again, now when I finally got a new edition after my late one-eyed dog ate the old one some years ago. Nourishment for the body and soul, it seems...

Quick question: Is Peter Jackson planning anything original in the near future? Since Lord of the Rings there hasn't been anything has there?

I don't know, I always thought that Richard Harris made a better Dumbledore than Gambon. He just seemed way...calmer. Of course Gambon was still great but it's the little things that make movies memorable, Dumbledore was the best part of the first two for sure.

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