Can you imagine any other actor playing Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit? After seeing Sir Ian McKellen play him brilliantly throughout The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it would have been an awkward situation to say the least.
However, according to Comic Book Movie, this exact situation nearly arose as McKellen almost didn’t come back to reprise his role as the wise wizard. As to why he almost didn’t return, here’s what he had to say:
It was a little like going back to something that wasn’t necessarily going to be particularly challenging. Gandalf is still inside me, as it were, so the business of getting to know a new character — I was sort of going to be robbed of that.
It’s understandable that he would want a challenge as an actor, and when you couple that with the fact that he’s filming these epic movies for an incredibly long stretch of time so far away from home, it’s even more understandable why he would hesitate.
Luckily, a friend simply asked him something along the lines of how he would explain himself to the millions of fans if he didn’t return, which ended up causing McKellen to change his mind.
Another thing that made McKellen’s decision easier was the fact that he would be getting to play the more friendly role of Gandalf the Grey, as opposed to the more serious Gandalf the White. “Peter Jackson and I much prefer Gandalf the Grey, who was a man who did manage to enjoy himself,” said McKellen of this plus side of his return.
So there you have it. A potential disaster was averted and McKellen returned to the role that made him popular with millions of Tolkien fans around the world.
We’ll finally get our chance to return to Middle Earth when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters on December 14th.