From MTV: Why did it take the man behind Gandalf so long to commit officially to “The Hobbit”? In a surprisingly candid post on his website, Ian McKellen opened up on Wednesday (January 12) about behind-the-scenes developments and his own ambivalence surrounding the two-part project.

“Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did?” he wrote, going on to cite the example of the “Harry Potter” franchise. “Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?”

The issue all along was not whether he still feels creatively energized by Gandalf — “I long to do it,” McKellen told us of the role back in November of 2009. Rather, the sticking point was simply that the production faced delay after delay and, as the 71-year-old McKellen put it, “All I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given me.”

First, producer Peter Jackson and director Guillermo del Toro struggled to get the production off the ground as MGM faced severe financial difficulties, and then a planned date to begin shooting early last year came and went. Del Toro departed the project, Jackson stepped in to direct and the production faced a dustup with New Zealand’s trade union. The prospect of shooting outside that country bubbled up. More..