Of all those involved in the upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit, Ian McKellen seems to be the most vocal. The last time he "spilled the beans" about the pre-Lord of the Rings adventure (along with him talking a little bit about the standalone Magneto movie), McKellen talked about when we could expect the script, which, he stated, would be "very soon."
That was last month - fast forward a few weeks and it appears The Hobbit script has surfaced (or at least a draft of it) and lucky Sir McKellen has apparently had a read of it. However, it's early days yet for the film (Part 1 doesn't come out until the end of 2011), and sadly but not surprisingly, McKellen is staying tight-lipped about what's in the script. Here's what he told SciFiWire about it during an interview last week promoting AMC's The Prisoner:
"As Peter [Jackson] has said, they loved writing Gandalf [for The Hobbit] because they knew who they were writing him for... There are a lot of characters in The Hobbit, including, crucially, Bilbo, and they don't know who's going to play Bilbo. So it's extremely attractive that this part has been written for me. The other Gandalf was written for, well, just as Gandalf. There's lots for me to enjoy, in all sorts of ways. And I couldn't be happier. But I'm sworn to secrecy. I'm not to say anything at all about the script."
It's rather strange to hear McKellen say they don't know who's playing Bilbo yet when just a couple of months ago he said he knew who'd been cast as the titular Hobbit. Conflicting messages there...
I know, I know, you wanted to get some juicy info on what we can expect from The Hobbit, but as a consolation for McKellen not giving any script details away, he went on to tell SciFiWire what it was like getting the part of Gandalf:
"I can't believe it's 10 years for me... I remember being told by a friend in Hollywood that 'your life is going to change,' and it has. Gandalf is an extremely famous character, and I quite like having him around the corner. He's very popular."
And finally, as he did the last time he spoke about The Hobbit, McKellen talked more about Peter Jackson (who's producing/writing) and Guillermo del Toro (who's directing/writing) and how they work so well together:
"They are the same person... They were separated at birth. They're twins. They have the same attitude. Neither likes working in Hollywood. They're both fascinated by fantasy and violence on the screen, and gore, and things that frighten you. They like going into the psyche. They're both brilliant storytellers in very much the same way. And I think the script, because I have read it, plays very much to Guillermo's strengths, as I've seen them. I have seen his other movies, and people act very well in them. So I think it's all fine. And Peter will always be there."
Ah well, so we haven't found out how long the film is, at which point it will split (it's being done in two parts, remember), and just how close it will adhere to J.R.R. Tolkien's classic book. But at the very least we know a draft of the script has been turned in, and it's starting to be shown to the principal names involved with the movie. I'm going to guess it won't be the final shooting script (when does a script ever get the go-ahead on the first draft?), and what McKellen has read won't be exactly what gets put on-screen.
I just hope this small progression will lead us to finding out one of the absolute pivotal, make-or-break aspects of The Hobbit adaptation: who is playing Bilbo. David Tennant, Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy's names are amongst the few that have been thrown out as possibilities. Personally, I'd love to see McAvoy take on the role - I think he'd fit very well as a young Bilbo.
What do you think of the latest update from Ian McKellen? Do you think we will learn who is being cast as Bilbo soon? Who would you like to see play the part?
Part 1 of The Hobbit opens in theaters in December 2011, with Part 2 following a year later in December, 2012.