In the past few days I’ve seen many articles saying that Sir Ian McKellen did not want to return as Gandalf in The Hobbit. This has struck me as rather odd as everything I’ve read about Sir Ian tells me he loves New Zealand and working with Peter Jackson and that he thoroughly enjoyed his time filming Lord of the Rings.
So it was with some interest that I read the report in the London Evening Standard that puts Sir Ian’s comments in context. In fact, when it actually came down to it, it was easy for Sir Ian to decide to reprise the role of Gandalf because he did not want another actor to take the part.
Sir Ian explains that, with any job, he makes a list of the pros and cons and then decides whether to accept the role. In the case of The Hobbit he says,
“The negatives were: I’ve done that part and do I want to be away from home for a long time over the next two or three years?
“The positives were: I don’t want anyone else to play Gandalf, I enjoy going to New Zealand and I have fun working on these films. So it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. It was just that you never knew when you were going to make it.”
Sir Ian goes on to talk rather mischievously about Gandalf saying:
“I had hoped that in this movie we might see Gandalf a little bit off-duty. You never see him washing, do you? No one seems to wash in Middle-earth.
“And I rather like the idea of seeing Gandalf waking up under a hedge, where he’s spent the night, and taking the straw out of his hair. Maybe stripping off and we discover he’s tattooed from his neck downwards. Then him having a long pee against a big tree.”
He also speaks of working with Peter Jackson saying:
“The relationship we have is often making each other laugh. He’s always had time to just have a joke. Our regular joke is I’ll step on set and say, ‘Has John Hurt arrived yet to play Gandalf, Peter? No? Oh well … I’d better do it myself.”
So there we have it. One twinkly-eyed Gandalf!
You can read more of Sir Ian’s decision to play Gandalf on his blog http://www.mckellen.com/cinema/hobbit-movie/121024.htm