Ian McKellen talks Gandalf the Grey in THE HOBBIT


I don't want to play Gandalf again.

Before you Lord Of the Rings fans bring out your reforged Sword of Isildur, let Sir Ian McKellen explain! In an exclusive interview with RottenTomatoes at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain--where he was later presented with a special Donostia Award in recognition of his career as an actor-- McKellen sat down to discuss his work, and of course a little prequel he'll be working on.

For the first time in seven years, McKellen will put on the robe, hat, and giant prosthetic nose to play Gandalf the wizard, for director Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien's The Hobbit. LOTR director Peter Jackson is co-writing and producing the prequel, which is being broken up into two films(There are also rumors that Jackson may direct a third film, to bridge the gap between the films).

So what exactly was McKellen thinking when he unceremoniously declared not wanting to play Gandalf before even being asked? He already said he'd be coming back right? RIGHT?!!!

What McKellen was actually referring to, is the risk of typecasting in the wake of a big success. He explained:

If you play a part that gets an awful lot of attention, forever after you're being asked by directors to play the same part in their movie. But I played the best wizard, and I'm happy to revisit him, which I shall do in The Hobbit with Guillermo del Toro.

Not only will The Hobbit give McKellen another chance to take on one of literature's greatest wizards, but the film will also allow him to revisit the earlier incarnation of the character, Gandalf the Grey, who only appeared in the first of the trilogy, Fellowship of the Ring-- returning as the more powerful and solemn Gandalf The White in the last two films.


McKellen said of the character:

Grey Gandalf is my favorite. Peter Jackson's too, we always preferred Gandalf the Grey. Peter liked him because he got down and dirty. He slept in the hedgerows; he was closer to the earth and not quite so spiritual. He's also funnier -- he's got more variety to him. We thought there was more scope in that Gandalf.

I agree that Gandalf The Grey was definitely more fun! He seemed a bit more nurturing of those around him. It's also a testament to how convincingly McKellen played both parts. It will be nice to see him revisit that side of him.

McKellen also finds joy in the character's broad appeal, to old and and young fans alike. He said:

He appeals to really young people. Gandalf has 8 and 9-year-old fans who've seen his films a great deal more than I have. Their faces when they meet the actor who plays Gandalf are wonderful to behold, so that's been special.

The two Hobbit films will be released in 2011 and 2012. Are you excited to see Ian McKellen reprise his role as Gandalf the Grey in Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson's The Hobbit?