Starlog Magazine are covering the X-Men film up the yin yang, it’s lucky our very own Ian McKellen (Gandalf) plays the chief heavy Magneto…otherwise I’d be out of a job…X-Men is on every mag cover from ‘American Cinematographer’ to ‘Maxim’. During the McKellen interview they did speak a little bit about LOTR, read on:
Not long after he wrapped X-Men, McKellen joined the cast of yet another high-profile genre project, Peter Jackson’s mammoth mounting of The Lord of the Rings. McKellen will appear as beloved Gandalf in all three of the films, which also feature the talents of Liv Tyler, Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee, among many others, and which are lensing in the lush environs of New Zealand.
“We’re shooting roughly in sequence, and I’m now more than halfway through my work on the first film,” McKellen reveals. “The [production people] did a lot before I got there and are, I suppose, halfway through the three films. But you’re not really aware that it is three films. You’re just aware that it’s one long story that you’re telling. Yes, I will be there until December, on and off, but a year of one’s life doesn’t seem too much to spend on this sort of project.
McKellen as Magneto
“Peter is very much the motivating force, not just of the planning, but of the daily achievement of it. He wears that responsibility very lightly and is very open to suggestions from the actors and people from all departments. He’s very clear about the style and what is required of each scene as we shoot it, but he’s not a domineering sort in any way. So I am full of admiration for him”
As anyone who knows J.R.R. Tolkien tales can attest, Gandalf is essentially two characters. There’s Gandalf the Gray, who re-emerges later as Gandalf the White. Tolkien makes some clear distinctions between the two wizards, in terms of appearance and energy levels. “In a sense, they’re two aspects of a character I am playing,” McKellen opines. “It’s almost like two parts. I suspect that Gandalf is as popular as he is because he likes the Hobbits as much as he does. Tolkien was clearly fond of the Hobbits. He’s fond of all his characters, really, but he has invested the Hobbits with such detail. We know so much about their social life, about what they enjoy, about what they’re like. Being smaller than most people, they have a cutesy quality on top of everything.
“And there is Gandalf, the wise wizard, the spirit from afar who is concerned about preserving Middle-earth. That he slips so easily into the world of the Hobbits makes him delightfully human. And he’s good-natured with a sense of humor. From the first time you meet him, you think he’s a man to be trusted. You feel that probably the Hobbits will be safe, somehow, through the dreadful adventure they have to endure. So Gandalf is a fatherly figure and, at least in the world of the Hobbits, he would be great fun to be with.”
After he finishes Lord of the Rings, McKellen may return to the stage, or he could charge into another film, or he just might take a vacation. And after essentially making four genre movies back-to-back, one might not begrudge him if he never, ever wanted to hear the words SF, Fantasy or comics again. “Immediately before X-Men, I spent five months in the theatre,” Ian McKellen says after enjoying a good laugh. “Probably after Lord of the Rings, I’ll go back and do something on the stage. Where or what it will be I am still considering. I think a stage performance is the most likely next job. It may be preceded by a long holiday, but I don’t see the need for one at the moment, New Zealand is beautiful. I can’t imagine the film being made anywhere else. New Zealand is vacation in itself and I’m feeling very relaxed, really.”