Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, recently posted an article about Gandalf in the Two Towers. The article included some short interviews with both Ian McKellen and Peter Jackson. It´s in Swedish, but Al_Bino kindly provided the following translation. You can read the original swedish text here.
Gandalf is alive in the new movie – Strong and white
McKellen: “He is like a Samurai”
Warning. Here the intrigue of “the Two Towers” is revealed. Unfortunately it probably won´t help if you stop reading here. Before the movie has its premiere most of the viewers will know that Gandalf is back.
In “Lord of the Rings” Gandalf falls down a dark chasm after having stopped Balrog, so that Frodo and the others can escape. Now a trailer for “the Two Towers”, rolls in the swedish theaters. Two minutes that ends with a close-up on Ian McKellen as the impressive Gandalf.
During a break in production in New Zeeland, I ask Peter Jackson why he has chosen to reveal that the bearded leader of the Fellowship is coming back.
Did you think about hiding the return of Gandalf until the premiere?
– No, that´s impossible. For several reasons. Many millions have read Tolkiens books and knows what an
important part Gandalf plays in the two sequels, says Peter Jackson. We have to have Ian McKellens name on the poster, and maybe a picture of him to. So I thought he could be in the trailer as well. But now it´s not really the same wizard. Last time he was Gandalf the Grey. Now he is Gandalf the White.
I meet him at last at breakfast in Wellingtons studio, where the tall Gandalf and Saruman strides around majestically, picking up egg and bacon. When the day of recording is over, an Ian McKellen without makeup comes, and tells me about the wizards return after his death in the first film. He stretches his stiff limbs.
– I get tired from 14-hour days and sitting on a barrel dressed in cow-skin, pretending to be riding a horse, he says. The horse is Shadowfax. In the trailer we see a glimpse of Gandalf riding in the front of a charge.
Your character is transformed?
– He is sent back to do the job he did not finish, says Ian McKellen. Gandalf the Grey was burdened with an ache, from all the thousands of years that he had lived. A little uncautious, made some mistakes, sat rather with the Hobbits drinking and smoking. Not always on the alert.
– Now Gandalf is sharp and concentrated. The Ring is on it´s journey, and he must see to it that it gets there.
He is a leader, a samurai, more energetic. Gandalf looks younger, even though his hair has turned white. He is neat and elegant. Still with a sense of humour, but he will not let himself get distracted.
Was it easy to become Gandalf again after 18 months?
– Yes, but I was a little worried. Peter showed me all my scenes in “the Two Towers” and explained what he wanted to add and remake. When I saw them I found the right mood again.
It must help having all the others back in Wellington as well?
– Yes, it´s very unusual that everybody in the crew is back to make the additions. Everyone is here because of Peter Jackson. It´s a very nice atmosphere here in New Zealand. We don´t have any pressure on us any longer, since the first film was such a success.
– Peter told us that now it´s more like making a home-video. Although I´ve felt like that all the time
with “Lord of the Rings”. It just happened to be a home-video that the whole world enjoyed. Gandalf has a bigger role in the secod and the third installment.
– It´s his last job. When it´s done he knows it is the end of Gandalf. His journey is over. He is a changed person.
– Gandalf speaks differently and looks differently. He has become more vigorous and strong to
complete his task.
It sounds like an action hero?
– Yes, but unlike other action heroes he is very human. You never see Magneto in “X-men” sitting down having a meal. The viewers gets to see Gandalf on his time off as well.
But after this you´re back in Magnetos costume again, right?
– Yes, we´re starting to shoot in Vancouver in july. It feels like I have been doing “X-men” and Gandalf for five years. I made the first “X-men” just before “Lord of the Rings” and now I´m back as Magneto again. “X-men” is also a family, though a little changed. Both Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman has become big stars since we made the first “X-men”.
I saw you in August Strindbergs “Dödsdansen” (Dance of Death) with Helen Mirren on Broadway. Have you any new plans for the Theatre-stage?
– Not right now, but quite soon. We were thinking of doing Strindberg in London. I´m shooting “X-men” in Vancouver until october, but after that i´d like to do a play.
Ian McKellen started doing theatre and made his breakthrough as a movie actor in the 1990´s. He has been a spokesman for homosexuals in England, and was recently grand marshal for the Gay Pride parade in San Fransisco. He met his boyfriend in New Zealand and spends much time there.
– Yes, i´ve become like a part of the furniture. Nobody looks, says Ian McKellen. But “Lord of the Rings” has changed a lot. I have got fans for the first time in my life. Children who draws their breaths when they see Gandalf. It happens everywhere. My website has 2 million hits a month.
The time in New Zealand has given him a new point of view.
– I am more eager to have some time off now, says Ian McKellen. Before, I worked a lot, and lived to little.