Ian McKellen E-Posts

"Mercy!" cried Gandalf: "if the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What do you want to know?"

13 August 2005 


Q: I'm going to watch my fourth trilogy of the lord of the rings today (extended version) and I was wondering if you had ever seen the trilogy? And if yes, how many times?

A: I have yet to watch any of the three films on DVD but would like one day to see them one after the other where they most belong, on the big screen.


Q: My question is in regard to the LOTR commentary in which Ian McKellen states that both Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are two "resolutely heterosexual" actors. In light of the constant rumors, why did Ian feel the need to answer for Elijah? Isn't Elijah big enough to answer for himself? I for one would like to see Elijah FINALLY go on record and say once and for that he is heterosexual. I am sick of him "laughing" at us gay people and telling gay jokes, like that homophobic one he told during the 'Ain't it cool news' interview. My friends and I have already started a boycott of his films and have launched a three prong website deal to educate people about the REAL Elijah Wood.

A: You are way ahead of me in the rumour game. Elijah is one of the most considerate, open and friendly people I've ever worked with and the idea that he would lie about his sexuality is utterly out of character. He is of that generation who have no hang-ups about homosexuality, which would explain why he has no problem being affectionate with both genders.

[Webmaster's note: Unfounded rumours about Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan may have been boosted by a confused person who claimed to be "channeling" the spirit of Elijah . . . see links below:

A book on the subject available from Amazon.com (When A Fan Hits the Shit)

A thread at JournalFen.net ]


From: Colyn

Q: I am in the final stages of writing my final dissertation for my university degree at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. I am writing about Lord of the Rings and the success or otherwise of any adaptations made of it. Your website and eposts etc have been an invaluable help to me, and I have quoted you more than any one person throughout my work, with the sole exception of Mr Jackson himself! Thank you (and your webmaster) for doing such a good job.

A: Ever since reading for an degree in English Literature at Cambridge over 40 years ago I have been alert to the links between academia and acting. During my career, a mutual admiration has been increasingly established between two approaches to drama, those who study Shakespeare's words for example and those who speak them for a living. Praise from an academic is often more satisfying than from a drama critic, coming as it does from one who really knows the subject.


From: Mary Fairchild

Q: When one has been a guest in another's home, the thing to do is write a little note the next day, thanking the hosts for their hospitality, noticing some little thing that made the evening, like how Aunt June's watermelon-rind pickle still, even though AJ has been dead for years, reminds you of summers by the seashore and by-the-way returning any stray silver that might have found its way into the children's back-packs. I know it's been years since the theatrical release of The Fellowship of the Ring, but I just got the extended version of the DVD of the whole trilogy and I want to thank everyone for the part they played in this perfect set of films. The world would be a much dimmer place without it. I was a guest in Mr. Tolkien's world, and, alas, at 10, hadn't got the hang of the little bread-and-butter note. But having been, in my middle years, a guest in Mr. Jackson's world, I know how to behave myself and properly thank my hosts. So, thank you, Sir Ian, for proving that one needn't be young, buff, and hetero to be manly and magnificent and utterly astounding. And for wearing that ridiculous hat and being not in the least ridiculous.

A: What a lovely thank you letter.


Q: My brother Bobby and I have been fans of Tolkien since we were children. We read and reread all of Tolkiens work. We thought what a world we could all live in if we were all a little more like hobbits, or Gandalf, or Numenoreans before the fall.It helped us early on (along with our family) to value hope and friendship, courage and sacrifice, all those words that people kind of wink at today. Tolkien subtly and overtly colored our perceptions and dreams. We had always lived for the day a film of LOTR could be made that would bring the world to life, hoping it could capture the sense of wonder. You did. You all did. My brother was going through some terrible times when Fellowship came out. His life was unrecognizable from what it had been just a few years before. All that had been happening with Bobby had caused our family huge problems and my anger kept us from talking. Then Fellowship came out. It gave us common, safe ground again, something good to talk about. It brought some of the magic of happier times back. My brother died suddenly the April following Fellowships' release. He was only 30 years old. All of you helped give me four months with Bobby I otherwise wouldn't have had. I remember one of our last conversations including how we had finally got to actually hear Gandalf tell the Balrog it couldn't pass, and how Gandalf's expression at the council when Frodo volunteered to take the ring was just how we had imagined it. It is something I will never forget. We buried Bobby with a copy of Return of the King beside him. I intend to try and thank as many of you involved with LOTR as I can, but I wanted to start first and foremost with Sir Ian.

A: I relish experiences like yours as confirmation of how potent story-telling can be in the theatre and cinema.


Q: Is it true that the Maori came to bless the sets before filming began on the LOTR? Did you have a chance to meet any of them during your time in New Zealand?

A: I wasn't in New Zealand for the start of filming in October 1999 but I remember a number of "hakas" during filming when Maori warriors welcome strangers and honour their presence and enterprise. One took place at the Oscars in 2000 and another at the world premiere of Return of the King at Parliament House in December 2003.


From: Craig Jessup

Q: Looking through your site, it's reassuring to see that someone of your status (after all, you played Gandalf - I'd imagine this could change most actors for the worse, ego and such) leads what appears to be a normal life, being someone that other folk can relate to. What did you need to feel to act as well as you did?

A: "A normal life"? Not what queers are supposed to know much about! Thanks for the compliments. When playing Gandalf, as with any part, I go for the inner life but equally enjoy adopting an appropriate outer image. So I looked for the humanity within the ancient wizard. My E-posts and Journals during filming will tell you much more about the process.


From: Alexandra

Q: Was Minas Tirith actually built to full scale? I wasn't sure if they would, but hey, this is The Lord of the Rings! Anything can happen!

A: Minas Tirith was built in part in a quarry north of Wellington. But in its entirety, the city was a model about seven feet high in the Stone Street Studios at Miramar, where I hope they have kept it safe. The quarry has returned to its pre-filming state.


From: John M Greener

Q: I have watched LOTR about 100 times now (give or take a sticklebat) and I am still enamored with your portrayal of both the Grey and White wizard. Although I could inundate you with hundreds of questions that have not been asked; when Frodo asks you in FOTR why you were detained (at Rivendell) you give a wonderful face scrunch and a beautifully timed pause before you answer "I am sorry Frodo... I was delayed" . Was that pause all yours or the director's? It was wonderful, whomever decided upon it..... PS. Your scene with the Balrog still brings tears to my eyes as what you say is almost verbatim from the book...Bravo. (as does Sean Bean's death scene)

A: I'm going to claim the pause as all my own work since you enjoyed it so much. I agree with you about the impact of Boromir's death.


Q: I was wondering why, with all the power that gandalf had with the ring, that he couldnt get his good friends the eagles to fly into mordor and drop it into Mt. Doom.

A: Perhaps Gandalf (or at least Tolkien) appreciated that devotion and sacrifice will always outweigh the easy fix.


Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings