Wednesday, November 09, 2011

McKellen Turned Down Gandalf

At this point in time it’s hard to imagine anyone else but Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, as revealed in an interview with Empire Magazine, that almost came to be. Empire is releasing a 10 year anniversary special (sheesh time flies as you get older) in a few weeks that reveals this nugget of trivia. McKellen initially turned down the role for most common of reasons in Hollywood - a filming schedule conflict.

"At the time I was about to play Magneto in the X-Men film in Toronto. I was already committed to that ... and it meant I couldn't get to New Zealand in time. So I had to tell Peter I could no longer do Gandalf.

It was that exact night that McKellen dined out at a London restaurant next to New Line Cinema executive Bob Shaye. He said, 'I hear you're going to be in our movie.' And I said, 'Oh, not anymore.' And he said, 'What's the problem?' And I explained. "He just said, 'Leave that to me'," said McKellen.

"That was the best thing he ever did for me, because they worked out they could do without me for the first three months ... that is what I remember of the beginning of it - how I very nearly didn't play Gandalf!"
I guess this experience gave Sir Peter Jackson the experience he needed for The Hobbit's own scheduling conflict. Martin Freeman was going to be forced to turn down the role of young Bilbo due to a schedule conflict with the filming of season 2 of Sherlock. However, Peter Jackson simply worked around that conflict.

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