Ian McKellen (1939- ); English stage and film actor. At the time McKellen was cast as Gandalf in the LOTR movies, he was best known for his film roles in Richard III, Apt Pupil, Cold Comfort Farm, and Gods and Monsters.

LOTR Casting Rumors, Rumblings, and Reports

In late May, 1999, TORn reported a rumor that Ian McKellen had talked with Peter Jackson in regards to the role of Gandalf. 1 In late July, 1999, Moriarty of Ain’t It Cool News posted a 'rant' that included: "I wasn’t surprised when I learned that a firm offer is out now to Ian McKellan" 2

A few days later, TORn wrote that their sources reported McKellen had been talking closely with Peter Jackson's people in the past week with the last detail being a need to work around his role as Magneto in X-Men. 3 Xoanon added that this casting has been confirmed by Ain’t It Cool News.4 (A NZ newspaper scan is included in the article that I believe is from a later date. I suspect an error in uploading caused this newspaper scan to replace a photograph of McKellen that was originally displayed in the news article)

In August, second hand rumblings that McKellen was signed as Gandalf continued. 5 6 But in mid-September, a more solid indication came when McKellen opened up a section on his official website called 'Grey Book' where he hoped to discuss his experiences filming the LOTR trilogy. 7 This announcement was followed a few days later by another announcement by Xoanon that McKellen was confirmed as cast in the LOTR films. 8

On October 7th, 1999, a New Line Press Release announced that Ian McKellen would star as Gandalf in the LOTR film trilogy. 9

Hobbit Casting Rumors, Rumblings, and Reports

In mid-March 2008 book signing, McKellen, told a fan that he hadn't been approached about appearing in The Hobbit since Guillermo del Toro had become involved, even though Peter Jackson had stated in the past that he could only imagine McKellen as Gandalf. 10 This was reiterated by the actor himself on his blog 2 weeks later. 11

By early April 2008, it seemed negotiations were all but finalized. Speaking at a charity dinner event, McKellen stated, "It is sort of finished business really. I think I will be in the film." 12 Later in April, he posted an entry on his website's film listing page that he would be appearing in The Hobbit as Gandalf in 2010 13 and he told Empire Magazine "I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role." 14 Both Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro personally confirmed this in their May 24, 2008 'Unexpected Party' chat with TORn. Asked, "Will Ian McKellen return as Gandalf?", the both replied, "Absolutely!!" 15 In mid-July, 2008, McKellen offered, "Well, I haven’t had the contract yet but it’s everyone’s intention that I play Gandalf so yes, I will be returning to the role." 16

In January 2009, McKellen said his approach would not be to reprise the role of Gandalf in The Hobbit as he played him in LOTR. Instead he would bring a fresh perspective on the character who is faced with new sets of circumstances. 17 In September 2009, McKellen expressed some concern he might be typecast by reprising the role of Gandalf but said he would be "happy to revisit him, which I shall do in The Hobbit." 18 In November 2009, he reported he had read the script and that Gandalf had been written for him. 19

Progress on The Hobbit had languished in 2009, however, as MGM struggled with its financial stability (see Hobbit Film Timeline) and it appeared that a contract had still not been offered to McKellen by the end of the 2009. As Jackson was promoting "The Lovely Bones" he told New Zealand's TV3 "We’d like the people that are reprising their roles from The Lord of The Rings to come back. We haven’t offered the roles to anyone yet because we can’t do that yet." 20 In early May of 2010, McKellen reported that he had finally received a contract a few weeks earlier and "we’re in negotiation." and he hoped to meet with del Toro and Jackson in NZ soon. 21

However, on May 30, 2010, Guillermo del Toro announced that, "In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming “The Hobbit," he was leaving the film project 22 and it was unclear who would direct The Hobbit movies. Although work seemed to be progressing in terms of set, costumes, etc., McKellen still did not have a contract but he thought a decision would be made soon. 23 24

Although the Hobbit films received an official greenlight in mid-October 2010, 25 it still had obstacles to overcome. A union action brought against the project in September was resolved at the end of October 2010. MGM's financial difficulties did not get sorted out until the beginning of January 2011. (see Hobbit Film Timeline for more detail)

McKellen began to show signs of impatience. In mid-January 2011, he commented on his website, "For a year or more, I have been arranging my professional commitments around the possibility of The Hobbit films starting at almost anytime." 26 A few days later, he admitted to experiencing a growing ambivalence caused not by a lack of enthusiasm on his part to play Gandalf but by the numerous delays that had plagued the project. 27

It was in March 2011 that an official PR announcement revealed that production on The Hobbit had commenced and that Ian McKellen would be returning in the role of Gandalf the Grey. 28


1 May 30, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: Ian McKellen Steps into the Rings?

2 July 20, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: Moriarty Rants on AICN

3 July 22, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: Ian IS GANDALF!! Ian is BILBO!!!!

4 July 22, 1999 ~ Ain't It Cool News: LORD OF THE RINGS Casting: Gandalf and Bilbo confirmed!

5 August 18, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: A Few Words from Ian

6 August 19, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: Uma and Ethan? -- UPDATED

7 September 20, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: McKellen opens up ‘Grey Book’!

8 August 23rd, 1999 ~ TORn Spy Report: Simon Tolkien? Ben Afleck?

9 October 7th, 1999 ~ TORn News Article: NEW LINE PRESS RELEASE

10 March 11th, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Of Course Ian McKellen would play Gandalf? Right? RIGHT?

11 March 26th, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Sir Ian McKellen to reprise his role as Gandalf?

12 April 7th, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Sir Ian McKellen regarding The Hobbit: “It’s sort of finished business, really”

13 April 25th, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Ian McKellen Confirmed to Reprise Role as Gandalf?

14 April 30th, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Confirmation – Ian McKellen will Reprise Role as Gandalf

15 May 24, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: ‘Unexpected Party’ chat with Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro

16 July 22nd, 2008 ~ TORn News Article: Sir Ian McKellen confirms return (again), loves director choice

17 January 22nd, 2009 ~ TORn News Article: McKellen: ‘Hobbit’ Won’t Be ‘Rings’ Remake

18 September 24th, 2009 ~ TORn News Article: Ian McKellen on The Hobbit

19 November 3rd, 2009 ~ TORn News Article: ‘Gandalf’ has read the Hobbit script

20 December 28th, 2009 ~ TORn News Article: PJ Talks Hobbit, McKellen & More!

21 May 4th, 2010 ~ TORn News Article: McKellen talks The Hobbit in Oz

22 May 30th, 2010 ~ TORn News Article: Guillermo Del Toro departs “The Hobbit”

23 July 8th, 2010 ~ TORn News Article: More Gandalf Magic

24 October 3rd, 2010 ~ TORn News Article: Ian McKellen Waiting for “Hobbit” Papers

25 October 15th, 2010 ~ TORn News Article: "The Hobbit" (finally) gets the Green Light!

26 January 10th, 2011 ~ TORn News Article: Sir Ian McKellen to reprise his role as Gandalf in “The Hobbit”

27 January 13th, 2011 ~ TORn News Article: ‘Hobbit’ Star Ian McKellen Reveals Why He Almost Ditched Role