Sir Ian McKellen has revealed he could have easily missed out on the chance to play Galdalf in The Lord Of The Rings.
The actor, now 82, portrayed the wizard in six feature films between 2001 and 2014.
‘I still don’t quite know how Gandalf came my way,’ he told GQ last week. ‘I think because some of the actors who would have been offered it before me were rather put off by the idea of having to live in New Zealand for a year.
‘”Where the hell is that?” Well, more fool them!’
The films were shot across multiple locations in New Zealand, between 11 October 1999 and 22 December 2000. The first Lord Of The Rings movie was released in 2001.
Sir Ian was back in New Zealand to shoot The Hobbit prequel trilogy, which came out across 2012 to 2014.
Of the franchise, Sir Ian added: ‘I realised the popularity of the books not because I had read them, but I just got so many messages from people who were desperately worried that they were going to see the characters exactly as they had imagined
‘I can’t count the number of people who said to me, “Your Gandalf was exactly as I’d always imagined him!” Well how could that be? Because my Gandalf to look at is nothing like the Gandalf described in the books.’
Sir Ian and the rest of the cast of the fantasy trilogy will be reuniting for the 20th anniversary of 2001’s first instalment in order to encourage movie fans to return to cinemas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the course of three consecutive weeks beginning this Thursday, Alamo Drafthouse in Texas will screen the three films and host exclusive Q&A sessions with the likes of Sir Ian and co-stars Viggo Mortensen, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, and director Peter Jackson.