27 July 2004
Q: Sir Ian, have you see the EXTENDED EDITION of THE RETURN OF THE KING yet? If so, did you see some scenes that you really wanted restored back in the film?
A: Not yet: like the rest of the world, I am waiting.
Q: TWO TOWERS EXTENDED EDITION: Behind the Scenes and NO SIR IAN to be seen! Except for a brief look at film footage, I don't remember seeing you give any comments or humorous anecdotes on the behind-the-scenes. Did I miss it, or were you just saving yourself for the Return of the King Extended Edition?
A: During the compilation of The Two Towers DVD I was unavailable to join in because of other work but I think there might be more of me in the final (ROTK) extended edition.
LATE LATE SHOW
From: Diana Bridges
Q On "The Late, Late Show", I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite clip was chosen. That quiet moment between Gandalf and Pippin during the siege of Gondor is pure mithril and gets as close as any to the heart of Tolkien's world and our own. Did you choose it?
A: Film distributors supply a few clips for television shows from which the producers make their selection.
From: Oda Beitnes Amundsen
Q: Just to thank Sir Ian McKellen for being gay... I am gay myself, and live in Norway where this subject isn´t really accepted yet. But thanks to Sir Ian I feel more normal and it has made me open my eyes for my own world!! Thank you a lot! Were your costumes in the Lord of The Rings as hot as they look?
A: I can't take any credit or thanks for being gay! As for Norway, I wish Henrik Ibsen had turned his perceptive eye on gay concerns.
Yes Gandalf's robes and trappings were hot when the weather was. In the cold, of course, they were very comfortable.
Q: at the end of the Return of the King, I was in tears, it was so moving. Was it hard to film the last scene without crying?
A: Oh dear, if you are referring to Gandalf's farewell to the Hobbits, perhaps I shouldn't tell you that this was only the second scene I filmed for the trilogy. I scarcely knew Frodo from Merry and adopted the safest course of expressing very little as I said goodbye to them. It's an example of how much an audience can read into a performance — thank goodness.
CHRISTMAS IN TASMANIA
From: Anja Doerfelt
Q: A little story from Tasmania, Australia. Last Christmas at a midnight mass in a church in Hobart before the traditional telling of the Christmas story, the priest started talking about Lord of the Rings - Return of the King. At one point Aragorn asks Gandalf, "What does your heart tell you?" and in a little movie epiphany, the wizard's face briefly warms, brightens, and he says, "That Frodo is alive." He used it as an example for hope in the world, for good things and listening to one's heart.
A: Well I expect Tolkien, a Roman Catholic, would be pleased. It was a lovely exchange between Strider and his mentor, particularly as the old man is being taught something by his junior.
From: Chris Easterling
Q: While reading The Lord of the Rings I found that my last name is in there. The Easterlings. My brother saw the part when Gandalf and The Fellowship was running from the orcs and the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My brother doesn't think that you did all that running. I know you have stunt doubles, but I told him that it was really you running. Am I right?
A: You are right although we weren't in the set as you saw it. The actual Fellowship ran back and forth along the empty studio floor. The architecture (built as a model) was added around us later.
Q: How long did it take you to learn how to speak the Elvish parts of the film? and is there anywhere i can learn it from?
A: I copied the Elvish sounds from Andrew Jack, the films' dialect coach. You might look at his website.
Q: I just want to tell you that the scene where Gandalf talks about the life after Death and Valinor gave hope to me. I'm suffering under depressions and when I think that I can't keep going on I watch Lord of the Rings. Why? Because it lets me forget my life for a short time. When I first saw the Return of the King I wasn't very well. Then I saw Gandalf talking about Valinor and now I hope that there IS something after Death. It sounds strange I know but Lord of the Rings gives me what the Bible gives to other people. Hope. Gandalf is a part of this hope. With the best wishes from Switzerland.
A: Thank you for your mail which I shall forward to Peter Jackson who will be as touched by it as I am.
Q: Hello! I'm a massive fan of your portrayal of Gandalf and I've been following the LOTR eposts from it's inception. I've always wondered about the self-portrait you drew for the Wizard shirts. It captures Gandalf's spirit so well! Do you have a formal background in art? (You seemed quite at home with an easel in Gods and Monsters, too!)
A: You are over-kind. I enjoy doodling and sometimes add a quick cartoon of Gandalf the Grey with my autograph, a trick I picked up from the comedian George Robey who often drew his own caricature for fans. At school I attended art classes once a week, from which I learnt nothing. But my home is full of original work (by others) including two by James Whale, one of which I prop on his original easel that an online dealer sold me. It was fortunate for me that Whale in the movie wasn't required to draw well but was easy to fake being an artist as the camera didn't actually show the brush technique!