Blog | 5-6 December 2012 | #AskGandalf

While in New York for the US premiere of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, I had the pleasure of doing not one but two Twitter interviews under the auspices of @TheHobbitMovie. Following is a transcript of the Q&A from December 5 and 6.

— Ian McKellen, New York, 6 December 2012

First Twitter Interview, 5 December 2012:

We're here with Sir @IanMcKellen, and he's ready to take on your questions! #AskGandalf #TheHobbit

RT @amysupfan: #askgandalf What was it like donning Gandalf's robe again for The Hobbit?

It was like coming home.

After too long away.

RT @paulynvdc: How was working with Mr. Martin Freeman? #AskGandalf

I'm a total fan. And have been ever since The Office. He's brilliant on stage too. Seriously - I asked him for acting lessons.

RT @Ruck_It_Turner: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf what his favorite scene is in #TheHobbit and #LOTR

The scene with Galadriel in Rivendell. A chance to get to know Cate Blanchett and gaze into that beautiful face all day long.

RT @shhhhgrogs: Sir Ian, is there anything special that you kept, like Gandalf's staff or hat, either from the Hobbit or LOTR? #AskGandalf

I was given Gandalf's hat by Peter Jackson. And his staff. And I already had Glamdring, which I keep with a couple of umbrellas and the sticks that Leigh Teabing used in the Da Vinci Code. And if you wonder why you don't see the big keys to Bag End in #TheHobbit, it's b/c they're hanging up on my terrace overlooking the Thames in London.

RT @captaincho: #AskGandalf Sir Ian, what trait most resembles or connects you to Gandalf?

Is it the smoking? Is it the drinking? Is it being bossy? No. It's having a good laugh.

RT @kevinttalbott: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Who was the "favourite dwarf" you mentioned during the premiere?

Frankly, I'm still making up my mind...

RT @mczedmalik: @IanMckellen @TheHobbitMovie in a battle between you and dumbledore, who do you think would win? #askgandalf

The original wizard, of course. The one JK Rowling based the headmaster on.

RT @Allan_isumi: Have you ever said some quote of Gandalf in your routine day, Sr Ian? #AskGandalf

Visiting schools, I have warned students that if they don't revise hard for their exams: "You shall not pass!"

RT @PhilbonjBaggins: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, can you, or can you not, name all of the 13 dwarves? I'll be impressed if you succeed!

I can name them all. It helps that some of them rhyme.

RT @ChattyPatra: #AskGandalf Aside from LOTR & The Hobbit, what is your favorite book, Sir Ian? My friend Yvonne from Germany wants to know.

Thinking of books that appeal to youngsters and remain favorites throughout life, what about "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame?

RT @GilbertLowe: @TheHobbitMovie @ianmckellen I don't have a dad. I always wanted my dad 2 b a wizard. Will u b my dad? R u my dad? #iloveu

I used to have hair like yours, so who knows...

You should ask your mum.

RT @TrollingGnome: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf DO YOU LIKE BACON GANDALF?

Yes, indeedy-indeedy. Crisp and salty.

RT @SabeanieTralala: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf What's your favorite colour?

I'm a bit colorblind, so anything bright suits me. Maybe yellow, gold, sunny.

RT @HugoHustler: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Does the beard tickle?

It does a bit.

RT @Xindea: What is your favourite place in the world (if you're not allowed to pick a place in either New Zealand or Great Britain)?

Venice, Italy.

RT @TheShedoBear: @TheHobbitMovie @IanMcKellen #AskGandalf If you could use Gandalf's magic for ONE thing, what would it be?

To outlaw violence as a way of solving disagreement.

My father was a pacifist, and, so I suppose, am I.

RT @IanMkelley: @TheHobbitMovie What was your favorite location to shoot in?? #AskGandalf

Near the tiny settlement called Paradise in the South Island of New Zealand. But I've just remembered the valley where the Golden Hall of Edoras was built for Lord of the RIngs.

RT @jonathonbeggs: @TheHobbitMovie Would you ever go on Im a celebrity, get me out of here? #askgandalf

No, absolutely not.

RT @NicholasSiegel: What is your favorite Shakespeare play? #AskGandalf

Out of the comedies, Twelfth Night. Out of the tragedies - all of them.

RT @NoemiPlatania: @TheHobbitMovie Are there any actors and actresses you would like to work with in the future? #askgandalf

I'm still hoping to meet Dustin Hoffman on screen. Or Meryl Streep again.

RT @Audreegilchrest: @TheHobbitMovie #askgandalf do you like @onedirection

Do you like One Direction? Who doesn't? I saw them on stage in New Zealand.

But I'd like to put in a word for Union J - they're coming to the London premiere for The Hobbit.

RT @jake_shapiro: In the future when watching all 6 Tolkien-based films in a row, which trilogy should I watch first? #AskGandalf

Start chronologically.

RT @Darth_Martus: Do you have a favourite Greek tragedian? #AskGandalf

If you mean plays, The Bacchae.

RT @abbiandrews: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf what's the best way to poach an egg?

With care.

I crack the egg first into a saucer, then slide it into the simmering water with a dash of vinegar.

That stops the white from running.

RT @BobAgg66: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf who fluffed most lines during filming?

My least favorite dwarf.

RT @victoriathedeer: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Do you have a favorite musical?

Probably "Company."

By Stephen Sondheim.

RT @onehottweet: @TheHobbitMovie Best place to hide your pipe weed? #AskGandalf

In the fridge.

I'm going to see Lee Pace (Thranduil) in the new Kevin McNally play, so we'll have to postpone more questions for another time. One last one

RT @Shmulie2: #AskGandalf Can i come on your next adventure?

Sure you can. Bye for now.

Next time I'd like to hear what you all think of #TheHobbit. Thank you for your questions!

Sir @IanMcKellen had such a lovely time chatting w/ you all today that he wants to do it again tomorrow!


Second Twitter Interview, 6 December 2012:

Sir @IanMcKellen will be joining us in about 30 min! He's looking forward to answering more of your questions! #AskGandalf #TheHobbit

Sir @IanMcKellen will be here shortly! As we all know, a wizard means to arrive precisely when he means to. Thanks for waiting! #AskGandalf

Sir @IanMcKellen is here! Ask away, friends! #AskGandalf #TheHobbit

RT @jake3rd: What was it like working with Richard Armitage? #askgandalf

It was great fun to meet Richard and work with him, but I prefer him without the beard.

RT @jdocampo13: @IanMcKellen #AskGandalf Can You explain better how you became The White Wizard and which is your favorite film of LOTR ?

My favorite of the LOTR Trilogy was the first because it's more fun to be Gandalf the Grey than Gandalf the White.

RT @LauraRastl: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir Ian, do you speak any other languages (real or Tolkien-created)?

I can get by in French, but, otherwise, I'm grateful to be in a world in which so many people have taken the time to learn the English language.

RT @ShakerHymns: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, what's your favourite TV show? #AskGandalf #TheHobbit

The TV show I watch regularly is on BBC2, the show about current politics called "Newsnight."

RT @_Lindeman: @TheHobbitMovie What's it like being around Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving)? I'm certain it's a treat, yeah? #AskGandalf

Yes, Hugo and I laugh a lot. And I would like to work with him in the theatre.

RT @ShockBlankets: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir Ian, what's your favourite movie of all times despite the LOTR triology?

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot written, directed by and starring Jacques Tati .

RT @GoodGolyMsMolly: @TheHobbitMovie who would win in a fight? Gandalf or Magneto and why? #AskGandalf

The old guy, of course. With his 7,000 years of experience. Incidentally, I've answered this and other questions before on my website...

RT @C_Lioneye: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf What is Gandalfs drink of choice? (alcoholic or non alcoholic)

Well, in #TheHobbit, he is offered a cup of tea, but says he'd prefer a glass of red wine. The only trouble is dwarves drink out of much smaller glasses than wizards do.

RT @NorCalDan714: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Can you make smoke rings like Gandalf can?

Yes, I can.

RT @_Johnlock_: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Do you have a favourite Dwarf?

Yes, of course I do.

RT @sp0rtzb1lly: #AskGandalf Who was funnier in your opinion Chaplin or Laurel & Hardy? For me, it's Stan & Ollie.

Yes, agreed.

Stan Laurel comes from Lankershim where I was born.

RT @njmorritt: Can I please have free beer the next time I visit The Grapes? #AskGandalf

You are very welcome to my pub in East London, but note: there are no free drinks. But certainly a warm welcome.

RT @jeavymetal: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir Ian, could you say "hola", please?? Greetings from México!!

Hola to all my friends in Mexico! I filmed The Priest of Love with Ava Gardner in Oaxaca many years ago.

RT @eddardstarrrrk: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir, you like cats?

I like the big cats... the lions, the tigers, the jaguars, the cheetahs, the leopards, but domestically, I'm more at ease with dogs.

RT @AnnaCavey: #AskGandalf If you could personally ask Tolkien about Gandalf, what would it be?

Where does Gandalf keep his toothbrush?

And does he have a house somewhere?

RT @samurai_dudley: Are you proud to know that you will always be seen as Gandalf to millions of Tolkien fans? #AskGandalf

Yes, of course. I'm very lucky to have become involved with films that have become classics.

RT @Dariusaqua: @TheHobbitMovie Sr Ian What kind of music do you like? #AskGandalf

I like almost any music played live from Beethoven to jazz to rock, but I don't play music at home.

RT @sshelles: I saw you in Coriolanus at the National - also your bum - do you miss live theatre? #askgandalf

I don't miss live theatre because I'm often on stage. I will be back performing live in the middle of next year.

RT @zeyneperdoan: Sir Ian where is the one place would you like to go and you have never been too ? #AskGandalf @TheHobbitMovie

I have never visited South America, and I hope one day I make it to Easter Island.

RT @JesusCowell: @TheHobbitMovie if you could pick anywhere to live in Middle-earth, which realm would you choose? #AskGandalf

Hobbiton, every time. You can now visit Mata Mata and see the original film set.

RT @Fizzybubbles251: @TheHobbitMovie Gandalf rides horses quite often, did you do this or did they use stunt doubles? :-) #askGandalf

I actually mount, sit in the saddle, and dismount, but if you see Gandalf speeding along on horseback, that's not me... it's Gandalf.

RT @FeyzaNurArslan: #AskGandalf Dear Sir Ian, did you read Tolkien when you were young?

I read #TheHobbit in my late teens.

RT @fetustinafey: Where do you buy your sweaters, Sir Ian? #AskGandalf

I buy my sweaters in the sales.

RT @brandnewskies: #AskGandalf Have things ever gotten caught in your beard while filming?

Sometimes Rick, my makeup artist, had to remove the remains of lunch.

RT @thomaswedge: Sir Ian, you looked very natural smoking your pipe in the trilogy; have you smoked a pipe in real life? #AskGandalf

I used to smoke a pipe as a student and very few times since.

RT @GSP_Jones: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, what was your favourite prop from the Lord of the rings? (: #AskGandalf

All the props are made in the @wetaworkshop. And are immaculate, particularly the weapons. Glamdring is a magnificent sword.

RT @Lizizzz: @TheHobbitMovie #askgandalf if you could play another Tolkien character, who would it be?

It's too late, but I would have liked a shot at Bilbo.

RT @WhovianJoe: If someone told your younger self you would be the face of Gandalf one day, what would you have said? #AskGandalf

I would have said, "Who's that again?"

RT @EmilyLSteffen: #AskGandalf Middle School teacher here with her students, what advice do you have for kids who want to get into acting?

There's not enough work to go around, so be absolutely certain you want to act by being in as many plays as possible on stage, at school or with amateur companies. Also, go to movies and the theatre as often as possible and try and work out why some acting works and some doesn't.

If you go with a like-minded friend, it helps talking about it afterward.

RT @jasperkaas: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, who do you like more? Merry or Pippin? #ASKGANDALF

I adore them both equally.

RT @s_parvati: Sir Ian, if not grey or white, what color do you think Gandalf should be/would look good in? #AskGandalf @TheHobbitMovie

Silver or maybe a robe of many colors.

RT @adonnayy: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Do you think I can participate in The Hobbit's 2nd part production?! what can I do to get it????

If you are familiar with computers, you may be in with a chance. There are hundreds of people needed to work on the CGI effects.

RT @thepurplepillow: Where are you? for I much desire to speak with you. #AskGandalf

I am in a secret location on Manhattan Island in the state of New York but only until Friday when I will be back home in London.

RT @Brian_Neumann: #AskGandalf what do you think of Orlando Bloom? @thehobbitmovie

Orlando has grown into a man who still enjoys being one of the lads.

Always lovely to see him.

RT @healingmachine: @TheHobbitMovie @IanMcKellen What/who made you want to become an actor? #AskGandalf

I wanted to become an actor because I enjoyed seeing plays when I was very young and wanted to discover what happened backstage.

RT @Ms_Lipps: In the spirit of Christmas, would you please Tweet my son @Ammo_Reno a hello? It would be a special gift! #AskGandalf

@Ammo_Reno! Greetings from Middle-earth. Hello

RT @HeatherHill13: @IanMcKellen #AskGandalf If I were to offer you a glass of wine and some cheese, what kinds would you choose?

A Pinot Noir from Central Otago in New Zealand with a slice of English Stilton and digestive biscuits.

RT @anna_brightside: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Dearest Sir Ian, have you ever been to Russia?

Yes, during the Soviet years. Very depressed, but new laws have been passed in St. Petersburg and Moscow, which discourage gay people from being open and celebrating Gay Pride Week.

RT @MomsChooseJeff: How many auditions did it take for u to get the role of Gandalf for LOTR? Was there stiff competition? #AskGandalf

I didn't go to any audition.

You would have to ask Peter Jackson how I got the part.

RT @Music0ftheNight: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, what's one thing you would say to your 16-year-old self? #AskGandalf

Come out, you fool.

RT @xemmazingx: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir, Have you ever been in Italy?

I was in Umbria a couple of months ago. I first visited Italy when I played Hamlet in Roma.

RT @Anon_Trolling: #AskGandalf I'm gay and it's still difficult to deal with ignorant, homophobic people - how do you deal with it?

Find friends who will accept you for what you are. Be honest with them and then, one day, you'll be able to be open to the whole world.

If people can't accept for what you are, they're not worth bothering about.

RT @Kyros_Kyrou: Have you ever been to Greece or Cyprus? #AskGandalf

I have visited Cyprus a few times and did my one-man show on both sides of the green line in Nicosia. I have been to Athens once, playing Coriolanus by Shakespeare in the Roman Theatre below the Parthenon.

RT @Kaylee_Don: @TheHobbitMovie What was it like working with Andy Serkis as both an actor and director this time? #AskGandalf

I haven't worked with Andy as an actor yet, but I'm a huge fan, and he was very helpful to us actors in the 2nd unit sequences.

RT @JaceBantfos: #AskGandalf Sir Ian, would you like to be able to live as long as gandalf? Or would you choose a human life?

At my age, I realize that I'm not immortal, like Gandalf seems to be, so I'll settle for the time that I am given.

RT @MelissaPinner: what actors have you missed working with the most from LOTR that hadn't returned for The Hobbit #askgandalf ?

Those four gorgeous hobbits. It was lovely to see @WoodElijah again on the Hobbiton set.

Such a fine young gentleman and actor.

RT @JennyS1989: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir Ian, have you written or would you/would you like to write your autobiography?

My autobiography is my website, which includes more detail on my career than any book.

RT @GGronau: My German theater group and I just finished our childrens version of The Hobbit. Something you want to say to us?#AskGandalf

Congratulations. Sorry to miss you in Hobbiton.

RT @AvhMedia: @TheHobbitMovie would you ever play a wizard again in any fantasy film? #AskGandalf

No. Gandalf's the main wizard.

RT @MisterJoMaS: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Sir Ian, how was filming with Radagast?

Sylvester McCoy, Dr. Who #7, played the fool to my King Lear in Shakespeare's play, so it was great to be reunited in Middle-earth.

RT @mimmsical: @TheHobbitMovie Sir Ian, what's something that never fails to make you laugh? #askgandalf

Dogs playing in the park. However beautiful that may be, dogs are all clowns at heart.

RT @alex_v27: @TheHobbitMovie Dear Sir, how was it filming with Christopher Lee again? #AskGandalf

The one disappointment about #TheHobbit was that Christopher filmed his part in London whilst we were all in New Zealand.

RT @poxajub: @TheHobbitMovie Do you prefer Legolas or Aragorn? Greetings from Brazil!! #AskGandalf

I'd prefer to spend the evening with Aragorn, but the night with Legolas.

RT @tyronej1984: #AskGandalf can I stroke your beard?

No, young man, you may not.

At least not in public.

RT @dogsydni: #AskGandalf If LOTR and The Hobbit wasn't filmed in New Zealand, what other location would be a good place to film it?

There are plenty of Middle-earth locations in the UK, but they're not suitable because everywhere there is evidence of human activity.

New Zealand has much fewer walls, fences, telegraph poles, etc. through the centuries.

RT @karthy07: #AskGandalf No questions ...Sir, "I love you " thats what i want to say


RT @cemerez: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Can I have your hat, please?

Sorry, I keep the pointy hat at home for young visitors to try on.

RT @luundinaren: Have YOU ever been to Sweden? #AskGandalf

I have performed my solo show "Acting Shakespeare" in Stockholm and elsewhere in Sweden. The country which give the world that great hunk who plays Beorn, the shape-shifter, in the second Hobbit movie. Also known as Mikael Persbrandt.

 RT @EricaC318: @TheHobbitMovie Maybe some @TwoPaddocks ? #AskGandalf

Ah, yes. All actors should try Sam Neill's own wine from Two Paddocks. He has a great website.

RT @WhovianJoe: Who's your favorite actress to act alongside with? #askgandalf

In #TheHobbit, Cate Blanchett. In Shakespeare, Judi Dench. In anything, she would have to be Meryl Streep.

In #TheHobbit, Cate Blanchett. In Shakespeare, Judi Dench. In anything, she would have to be Meryl Streep.

RT @yariwari: @TheHobbitMovie #askgandalf I have always compared Gandalf with God, do you think it's an apt comparison?

I don't believe in God, but I know Gandalf exists.

RT @GraceSealeeee: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf CAN I MEET YOU, WILL YOU BE AT THE LONDON PREMIER

I shall be at NY premiere tonight at the Ziegfeld Theatre with all the cast. And then we'll be at the London Royal Premiere on the 12th of December in Leicester Square.

RT @JoeJamesGoodwin: #AskGandalf I've got my ticket booked to see The Hobbit at London's wonderful IMAX, really excited! Have you been there

Last time I was there was for the all-night screening for the LOTR Trilogy.

RT @reveriehr: @TheHobbitMovie #AskGandalf Have you seen The Lord of the Rings musical?

Yes, in London. Some of it was wonderfully spectacular.

RT @Zain_901: #AskGandalf why cant i pass?!

Because, I suppose, you didn't revise properly for the examinations.

RT @alerjikbunye: #AskGandalf Do you like chocolate?

It's not a passion, but I do like puddings... particularly a chocolate sponge pudding.

Apologies for the abrupt ending to Sir @IanMcKellen's Twitter Q&A, it looks as if we hit our Twitter maximum for the afternoon!

Sir @IanMcKellen's parting words: What sort of technology is it that doesn't allow us to go on tweeting? All, wizard wishes until next time!


Ian McKellen's Hobbit Blog

Photos: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Photos: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

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