The Hobbit has has an interesting road to theatres, fraught with obstacles that, at times, appeared seemingly insurmontable. Now, we are only a few weeks away from the release of the first film in the Hobbit trilogy, and things are looking (mostly) peachy, but though the road might go ever on, Ian McKellan recently reminded fans that it can often be a bumpy ride. On his blog, the actor recently revealed some of his early doubts about returning to the world of Middle Earth and donning the grey wizard’s iconic hat:
Now I’ve returned to Gandalf, I can’t quite believe that there was ever any doubt in my mind – but there was! There always is, with any job offer.
In making up my mind, I usually write down the pros and the cons and see which list is the longer or weightier. Thus:
PRO: Working with Peter Jackson is always stimulating and fun: we make each other laugh and he doesn’t let me get away with anything too theatrical on film. I admire his world-class colleagues like Andrew Lesnie (cinematographer), John Howe and Alan Lee (designers of Middle-earth) and so many more who returned for The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has become a cinematic classic and the same could well be true of The Hobbit. I enjoy living in New Zealand and exploring the amazingly beautiful countryside.
CON: A two-year commitment to The Hobbit would keep me from other work and keep me away from home and friends in London. I like new challenges and I’ve already played Gandalf the Grey.
When Peter first told me he had committed to The Hobbit, I immediately cleared my diary and stood by for the call. It was a long time coming, because Peter withdrew from the project and was replaced by Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo and I got on well, with a couple of meetings discussing his approach. Then he too withdrew. So it was back with Peter and then more delays, through illness and disagreements with the New Zealand actors’ union. I began to think The Hobbit was jinxed – another reason con.
What clinched it and made up my mind was the advice of a wise friend: “Ian, all those fans of the LOTR aren’t going to understand or care about your doubts. They just want to see you back as Gandalf.” And then I realised what I’d known all along, that I couldn’t bear to think of another actor donning the pointy hat and grey robes.
And that was that. Thank goodness!
Thank goodness, indeed. In the decade since their first release, the film version have become as integral to the mythos of Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s world as the books themselves, at least to this blogger. To love the face of one of the film’s most iconic and powerful performances would be a tragedy. Good to have you back on board, Ian.