The Wizard

Sir Ian McKellen has ap­peared as Gan­dalf since 2001’ s The Fel­low­ship Of The Ring

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - The hobbit -

What was dif­fer­ent about the newer films?

With Lord Of The Rings we went on lo­ca­tion more than we did for The Hob­bit. I think for

The Hob­bit we only went out for eight weeks. More of the scenery was recre­ated in the stu­dio. And that’s partly be­cause Lord Of The

Rings was filmed in an old paint fac­tory! This time we were in state of the art stuff built for

King Kong and used by Avatar.

Have your feel­ings to­wards the character changed after mak­ing six films?

No. I love Gan­dalf. Aren’t I lucky? The best parts are usu­ally the vil­lains! Not in this. Gan­dalf’s the good guy and it’s a good part. He says the right things, he be­lieves the right things. An ac­tor can have fun with it. Your in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Gan­dalf was ap­par­ently based on Tolkien him­self...

A lit­tle bit. He’d read some of The Hob­bit, just for a test. I heard this voice: smoking a pipe, a teacher at Ox­ford. That pa­tro­n­is­ing tone comes from Tolkien. What I got from hear­ing him speak was that he could imag­ine the char­ac­ters be­ing the­atri­calised – he was do­ing it him­self! So I kept think­ing, “We’ve got Tolkien’s bless­ing on our en­deav­ours.”

How do you ex­plain the on­go­ing pop­u­lar­ity?

There’s lots about Tolkien that must be con­fus­ing to peo­ple. Where are the women? Have you no­ticed that all the main char­ac­ters smoke? If you’d writ­ten this story from scratch, there’s no way a stu­dio would have al­lowed it. They are of their time. But they are about the end of the world, when cul­tures clash and changes oc­cur, and about some­thing as im­por­tant as the world wars. I think that might be why they en­dure. Of course, they’re ex­tremely well writ­ten. Tolkien is as good as Dick­ens at sketch­ing a scene.

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