Ian McKellen Talks Gandalf the Grey

Published 6 years ago by

the hobbit gandalf the grey ian mckellen Ian McKellen Talks Gandalf the Grey

Rotten Tomatoes had a chance to speak with the incredibly talented Sir Ian McKellan at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain yesterday, where the actor was receiving a special award for his career accomplishments.

They spoke about the reward and then McKellen turned the conversation to the inevitable topic of The Hobbit by saying “I don’t want to play Gandalf again.”

Uh oh…

Relax, folks. I had you going there, didn’t I? Well, in truth he did bring up the topic by saying exactly that – but what he was referring to, was the idea of typecasting and I don’t think that’s something he should be worried about.

“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.”

McKellen where’s a massive awesome beard and a fake nose, he can’t be typecasted like that. He played Magneto in three straight movies in addition to LOTR and I never thought of Gandalf when seeing him on screen there as the master of magnetism. In fact, I want to see him in more movies for both the X-Men and Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit franchises.

As for the character he brought to live on screen, Ian much prefers the Grey variant than the wizard with shiny and clean clothes… and that perfectly white beard.

“Grey Gandalf is my favourite… 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 dig both Gandalfs, but they’re right about the Gandalf the Grey being more down to earth… get it?

the hobbit ian mckellen as gandalf Ian McKellen Talks Gandalf the Grey

Next, McKellen went on the explain the wide range of appeal for the character, especially amongst the youthful audiences.

“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.”

And rightly so. Gandalf was played to perfection in the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy and I can’t explain how excited I am for more.

With Guillermo del Toro directing and Peter Jackson producing (the perfect people for the job), The Hobbit: Part 1 is scheduled to show off Middle-earth, December, 2011 and its sequel the following year.

Are you psyched for more Gandalf the Grey?

Source: Rotten Tomatoes, Header image edited from art by adorindil

TAGS: The hobbit
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  1. Can’t wait. Sir Ian is definitely the best possible Gandalf, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in Middle-Earth again. I’m also eager to find out who they cast for Bilbo. The Hobbit films are definitely my most anticipated films for the foreseeable future.


  2. Don’t do that to me Rob!

    Glad to see that McKellen is happy to stick around, though. He’s such a great actor. <333

  3. yeah he’s awesome in all roles. love him as magneto and gandalf. hope he still has the desire to perform though. the way he sounds it’s like he’s not super thrilled to do it.

  4. LOL sir Ian worried about typecast? I almost couldn’t believe I read that. What’s he played like 100 roles? Tell Ian that the average viewer, i.e. me, Sees him as an actor who plays roles not Gandalf, Magneto, Hamlet, Hitler, James Whale, or any of the other 96 characters he’s played or the next 100 I want to see him play.

    Which perhaps that’s what he needs is a role in a limited engagement play. Too long in front of the celluloid machine and you forget what it means to really be on. Live audience no retakes. ;)

  5. “I dig both Gandalfs, but they’re right about the Gandalf the Grey being more down to earth… get it?”

    I literally face palmed on that one. Nice.

  6. Be very interesting to see how they handle Gandalf popping in and out of the story, or will we follow him on his mission.
    Gandalf the Grey was a very interesting character. Keen to see him again.

    McKellen is great. Loved him as Richard the Third.

  7. I Hope both movies are 3 hours long and that the following DVD’s have an extra 30 mins of extra footage just like the LotR.

    All fantasy movies should be filmed like LotR..

  8. McKellen played the part to perfection. The Balrog scene was so good it was like it was cut from the book. Easily one of my favorite scenes in the movies. I have a friend who’s a huge LOTR fan. He’s read the story countless times along with the Simarillion. When he found out that McKellen was to play Gandalf he couldn’t have been happier. Then he found out he was gay and thought it was a disgrace and that Tolkien wouldn’t approve. But I can’t imagine another actor having played the part nearly as well.

  9. I agree with Manowar.
    They shouldn’t worry about the movies being more than 2:30 hours long. The fanbase is so big, and everyone will be so happy to see McKellen return as Gandalf (it allows for a sense of continuity that I think people look for) they will go along with it fine.
    I won’t mind at all if the movies are long.
    I can’t wait to have all the dvd’s and just watch all the extended versions.
    Fantasy and Science Fiction should be done like “Lord of the Rings” was done. Taking the time to tell the story, and really make it look like it has a lot of depth.
    We’ll see what they do with the Hobbit.
    I’m also very curious to see what they’ll do with Asimov’s “Foundation” which will be a trilogy, which is the way it should be.
    The writer for this adaptation wrote “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Patriot, and is a big “Foundation” geek, so I actually do have my hopes up (the fact that Emmerich is directing, and JUST directing, could be a good thing too. Emmerich, for visuals, is actually good, I would say)

  10. Hmmm. You know, when I think of Ian McKellen being type-casted my first thoughts are drawn to villains, like Magneto, Richard III, or what’s his name from DaVinci Code.

    I mean, has he ever played a Gandalf-esque character outside of LOTR?

  11. One of the greatest actors of all time in my opinion.

  12. Yes McKellen is a great wizard and I am glad he is reprising his role. As for Froto go with Danielle Radcliffe, come on!

  13. Thank you to have posted my drawing of Gandalf ^^ I hope sincerely that The Hobbit will be also incredible as the Lord of Rings!!!! Sir Ian McKellen is my favorite actor since prespque 10 years old, he is brilliant!!

  14. It would have been a pity if Gandalf was to be played by someone else. I think this is the most important returning character from Lotr Jackson & del Torro convinced to play again. It is clear that Ian Holm couldn’t have returned :)

    I also think that McKellen ist brilliant and can’t wait to see him in this film. I am also convinced that Peter Jackson is going to make this his next masterpiece. Hugo Weaving will also fit perfect in the immortal world of Elves, he did the last time round!