Thanks to Glorfin2 we have the complete transcript from Ian McKellen’s recent chat on Sci-Fi.com! Take a look!
[silverstars] Hi, Ian, If you could ask J.R.R. Tolkien anything about his character Gandalf, what would it be?
[SIM] Is there a Missus Gandalf?
[ninjor] Are you familiar with the similiarities between Gandalf the wizard and a character called “Vainamoinen” from a Finnish mythology called “Kalevala”? Has this aspect came clear to you as you have introduced yourself to the
script and history of LotR?
[SIM] No, I am not. But I am aware that Tolkien may have been familiar. But the actor’s duty is to be fiathful to the screenplay, not to the novel itself or even to the influences on Tolkein.
[Varda] Is there a Gandalf quote that you love the most? Can you tell us what it is?
[SIM] I will try.
[SIM] All we have to do is to… fill the time that is given to us? Something like that. And I like the fact that there is no religious ethic or morality involved in Middle Earth.
[SIM] There is no church in Hobbit Town.
[SIM] Every person must decide for themselves how they organize their life.
[superandi48]: what has been your favorite scene in the filming of the three movies?
[SIM] I think as far as Gandalf is concerned, I mjost enjoyed visiting the hobbits in Hobbiton. I did that on my very first day of filming in January 200.
[SIM] 2000, I mean.
[SIM] It was thrillintg to see the village brought to life.
[deathskiss]: Hello Sir Ian- Would you consider reprising Gandalf if Peter Jackson decides to do ‘The Hobbit’?
[Locke]: Other than Gandalf, is there a character you would like to have been in the LOTR trilogy?
[SIM] No, I think I’m very happy just to have played Galndalf — but don’t forget I play TWO Gandalfs so I was doubly lucky.
[Siwel-Kire]: In the scene in Bag End where Gandalf hits his head on the beam directly after hitting his head on the chandelier, I’ve heard that that was not in the script. Is that true?
[SIM] That is true.
[SIM] That was my idea.
[SIM] It told the audience that Gandalf was a little bit forgetful and that he had not been to Bag End recently.
[Aragorn-Elessar] : Hey Ian. Did you do anything to set a differance between Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White? If so what?
[SIM] The basic difference is that Gandalf becomes more focused, more determined, and is rejuvenated — is actually younger — as Tolkein suggests.
[SIM] So his voice changes, along with his movement and attitude.
[Igtica] : Sir Ian, did you have to learn to ride bareback to do the shadowfax scenes or was there some other means?
[SIM] Sir Ian chuckles…
[SIM] Under Gandalf’s voluminous costume, there was a saddle.
[SIM] But there was no bridle, and sometimes no stirrups.
[SIM] there was also Basil who was the stunt rider.
[ricquebec]: my daughter would like to now if sir ian has a cat at home and if he do ,what’s its name
[SIM] No, I don’t have any pets. But if I did, I think I would have a dog.
[Siwel-Kire]: The differences between your most recent characters of Magneto and Gandalf were very different. How did you become such a good actor?
[SIM] Thank you.
[SIM] I have been acting professionally for 42 years, and have not yet been out of work.
[SIM] Practice does not necessarily make perfect but it helps.
[Mithrandir2]: How was the sequence on top of the Tower of Orthanc filmed?
[SIM] The top of the tower was a raised platform built in the carpark of the film studios.
[SIM] The winds were provided by wind machines, but the interior of Orthanc was a set in the studio itself.
[Tabrimmon]: Sir Ian, which of the three films is your favourite and why?
[SIM] I think I prefer the first. Because the exctement is beginning to build, and you get to know the characters well.
[SIM] Gandalf has more variety of character in that film.
[Dan]: What was your reaction to seeing yourself for the first time in a video game? 😀
[SIM] I thought “that will make a good present for my great-nieces and nephews.”
[ElessarKing] : What is it like going to all of the premieres for The Return of the King? In NZ
[SIM] It was one of the most exciting and emotional days of my life.
[SIM] Film actors rarely meet their audience.
[SIM] It was wonderful to feel the love that fans have for these characters, as well as for the actors who portry them.
[OrangeBlossom] : What was your last day of filming like?
[SIM] Hard work.
[SIM] I did a lot of Gandlaf’s fighting for the final battle.
[SIM] We then had a party and I was given Gandalf’s sword as a souvenir.
[sbcglobal] : Sir ian, will you ever be coming to Russia for LOFTR premiere? We are waiting for you so much
[SIM] I would love to return to Moscow.
[SIM] But so far I have not been invited!
[SIM] I would really love to visit every country in the world and meet Gandalf’s friends.
[sam] : Hey, Mr. McKellen I was wondering if learning the different lanaguges Tolkien created for the LOTR was an easy task or was it diffcult? Being Gandalf you had to learn so many different speeches… was it hard to keep up with it all?
[SIM] I spoke very little non-English.
[SIM] But I had to learn Elvish, but just by rote.
[SIM] Like a parrot!
[ChatMod] [Paladin] : Sir Ian, (you are a fantastic actor!) about how many hours did it take for make-up for you?
[SIM] To begin with, it took two and a half hours — maybe more — for Gandalf the Grey, but it got quicker as the months went by.
[SIM] Gandlaf the White took almost half that time.
[ChatMod] Was it hard acting out the movie sequences involving the Balrog?
[SIM] I did not see the Balrog until I saw the film!
[SIM] He was — it was — just a yellow tennis ball on top of a pole for me to shout at.
[SIM] I felt like screaming “You shall not bounce!”
[cowgurl222] : bet you have learned so much working with Peter Jackson and with everyone on this film… what is one thing y ou will carrie with you?
[SIM] To be patient, and not expect to achieve everything at the first take.
[SIM] Peter sometimes asked us to do scenes more than twenty times as the camera rolled.
[moldy-hair] : Sir Ian, What would you say was your worst day of filming, and could you elaborate?
[SIM] Probably one of the very few days in which I got made up and dressed abd had to sit all day without ever working.
[LOTR4life] : Hi, Sir Ian, did you volunteer to do most of your own stunts?
[SIM] My attitude is that stunt people have an expertise which very few actors have.
[SIM] it would be irresponsible to risk being injured so that filming would have to stop.
[SIM] However, most of the time you see Gandlaf fighting, it is me.
[SIM] The riding was a different matter.
[SIM] A friend of mine was fatally injured riding on set, and I always remember him when I am asked to do something dangerous.
[ChatMod] [superandi48] : How has you history in Shakespearean history helped you on the film?
[SIM] In Shakespeare, as in Tolkein, I have had to be able to play-act with intimacy, and with large rhetoric.
[SIM] So I was not frightened of acting big in the film.
[SIM] When required.
[ChatMod] Mercury] : Who is your favourite cast member in LotR?
[SIM] Gollum. I want to meet him some day.
[SIM] But I am very fond of Ian Holm whom I have admired on stage and screen since I was a boy.
[SIM] he plays Bilbo.
[zachary] : Sir Ian are you sad that it is coming to an end?
[SIM] Since I finished principal photography as Gandalf, I have been in three other movies and played in Strindberg’s “Dance of death” which I am revising in Sidney Australia next month.
[SIM] So the wizard and I have already drifted apart.
[ChatMod] How would you contrast working on small films like Gods And Monsters with blockbusters like LoTR?
[SIM] The principal difference is the budget.
[SIM] Gods and Monsters could only take four weeks to film..
[SIM] Although I like the challenge of intensive work, I think I prefer the more leisurely time scale that a larger budget permits.
[Mithrandir2] : Since Viggo once needed a taller double to fit the proportions when he was beside a hobbit, did you ever have to have a taller double in the same way?
[SIM] Yes, Viggo and I shared Paul, a New Zealand actor who is nearly seven feet tall as our double.
[SIM] I also saw him once dressed as a giagantic Legolas.
[ChatMod] Sire Ian, our final question — and thank you so much for taking the time to join us. What advice do you give to aspiring actors and actresses?
[SIM] You save the most difficult question for the last!
[SIM] I am sorry I don’t have more time to elaborate, but the best advice I can give is to act whenever you can, paid or unpaid, with people whom you know will be honest in their criticism.
[SIM] Also, watch other people act and analyze why you think they are good or not good.
[SIM] I might direct everybody to my website: www.mckellen.com where I have answered many similar questions in my e-postings.
[SIM] All best wishes from Middle Earth.
[ChatMod] Thank you Sir Ian