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?"

27 May 2003

Gandalf's Hat

From: Christie

Q: I have one, small, somewhat silly question : your hat, as Gandalf the grey, is perfect. However, the shape of it seems to suggest that it might have been quite awkward to wear.....but very fun, anyway. Did you have much difficulty in keeping the hat on your head? (especially in the New Zealand wind.) I hope you come to Sydney, Australia sometime, perhaps to act with Hugo Weaving on stage?

A: On my very first day of filming (cf The Grey Book) there was a high wind in Hobbiton and a variety of ways were improvised to keep the hat in place. Straps, clips, rubber bands and hair-grips were to no avail. Friction between hair and felt were more reliable. I'm sure the blooper reel will show the hat escaping a couple of times.

I should enjoy working with Hugo again on stage or screen. He came to see Dance of Death the day before The Matrix Unloaded opening in London. You can imagine the excitement as he left the stage door.


From: GerryLevac@rodgers.com

Q: I know that Peter Jackson wants to be true to J.R.R Tolkien's work and he has done a very good job but that brings a problem how is it he's going to fit 1/4 of the Two Towers book and the full book of Return of the King all into one movie?

A: I daresay that is the question filling Peter's mind but can you doubt that he will manage it?


Shadowfax's Saddle

From: Rivendellquest9@aol.com

Q: Was it hard to conceal the saddle on shadowfax?

A: I was very concerned that Gandalf should appear to ride without saddle, stirrups or bridle. Annoying that in one of the official books a photo of Shadowfax's stirrups reveals that I am less of a horseman than Gandalf.


From: srigop8@yahoo.com

Q: am in my late teens and I confess that I'd never even heard of you as an actor prior to the release of X-Men and LOTR. I confess to not being much of a theater goer. I was just wondering how you felt about the fact that you've had as successful a stage career as any actor can hope for, but from now on you are going to be known to the world as Gandalf or Magneto.

A: Why would I mind being associated with two such iconic characters?

Gandalf the White
Return of the King


Frodo and Sam

Q: In The Return of the King, when Sam rescues Frodo, and Frodo is lying in his arms, Sam kisses Frodo on the forehead. Has this small element has made it into the film version?

A: I wasn't in this scene but don't think you will be disappointed.


Q: When making movies hundreds and thousands of props are made. With the Lord of the rings I have seen real props from the movies being sold over web sites. Will all the props be sold there? Buying an Elven brooch or Hobbit wigs would be wonderful! I am hoping that Peter Jackson is keeping some things so he can make the Hobbit. But if he isn't going to make it (boo-hoo) will the One Ring be sold too? And how much do you think it would be worth?

A: I am surprised that any genuine props are on sale yet because they all belong to New Line Cinema. Perhaps one day the Tolkien family estate will relent and allow a permanent exhibition of the making of Lord of the Rings which could display the myriad artefacts that WETA has produced. Until then, the value of the props can only be guessed at. There were a number of One Rings used in the filming, one of which was rightly given to Elijah Wood. But it wasn't he who got to keep the keys to Bag End. Gandalf didn't think Frodo could be trusted with them. Meanwhile, Fox are flogging X-Men2 memorabilia on E-bay.

This lizard, one of a pair created by WETA, served as a door handle in Orthanc.
Here it is seen in its new home in London.

Gandalf is back!

From: arwenanduril@aol.com Tugba

Q: I live in germany and im turkish[multi-culti). Sorry about my bad english is only school english! :) The first time i read the book i was very sad that Gandalf died in Moria but in the second book he comes back and it was outstanding for me! I even waked up my husband (he was sleeping) I said or better shouted to him : GANDALF IS BACK GANDALF IS BACK! and u can imagine how he looked! :) And i have a brother, you wont believe it, who can all your dialogs from the movie out of his head! :) What i wanted to ask is how big your role in the third movie is?

A: If you are worrying about your English, you should hear my German and Turkish. Gandalf returns to the centre of the fray in the third movie. I shall be back in New Zealand in early June to film a couple more scenes which I'm told will fill out his emotional journey.

 From: marco tschuy

Q: please excuse my terrible english. I read a lot about the LOTR movies, and in the beginning of this huge project, there were a lot of enemies who wanted to stop this project...so did you ever have problem, while turning this film with such people? In the beginning were you also sceptical in making this film, about such an untouchable story...?? sometimes I think it is really sad, that now everybody knows this story and everybody thinks "...oh yes, LOTR I know this..." but actually they don't know nothing at all, they're just buying the merchandise articles like a the T-shirt were the name of the movie is written on, but they don't know nothing about the story beyond LOTR or middle-earth. ...the most important question. Now when I'm reading the books, and the characters appear, I always imagine the actors from the film. How is it for you?

Q: I joined the film long after its finance was in place so wasn't aware of any "enemies". It's true that, having been initially interested in making a two-film version, Miramax decided that the whole story should be told in just one film. Peter Jackson demurred and was led by Mark Ordesky to Bob Shaye at New Line Cinema who suggested making three films to match Tolkien's three books. Many people have discovered the original novel through having seen the films. There will always be others who prefer just to own the t-shirt so to speak.

Well of course the characters in the book now look like the actors in the films. Just as from childhood onwards I have always thought of Robert Louis Stephenson's Long John Silver looking, sounding and moving exactly like Robert Newton in the movie version of Treasure Island, so from now on the same is true of Tolkien's characters in Peter Jackson's films.

Manicures in Middle-earth

From: joe_denali@hotmail.com

Q: Have to say I'm absolutely delighted to see that everyone who had grubby fingernails in 'Fellowship' has similarly begrimed cuticles in the second installment.... (Men who look like they've been at it in a vegetable garden all day must be on the side of right, right?) Tell me, how do those movie magicians simulate fingernail dirt?

A: Making-up the hands was always the last job before getting dressed for the day's filming. A sponge of brown greasepaint was rubbed under and over my finger nails for an instant dirt effect. At the end of the day it was sometimes a bit tricky to remove. Onstage, just as I have been about to enter, I've noticed too late for a manicure, my own dirty finger nails and comforted myself by thinking: "Of course what a brilliant touch that my character (however neat he might otherwise be) neglects his nails." Gandalf the Grey's nails were as grubby as his mud-splattered gown. Gandalf the White, on the other hand, prides himself in being immaculate — except in battle, of course.

Coming Out

From: catoliver_uk@yahoo.com

Q: I just read an article on you where you talk about how hard it is for a gay person coming out, and I plan to give it to a friend who has just come out, is going through a divorce with her husband and a lot of hard times with her family about it. Your performance in LOTR was moving and very inspiring, and I'm going to tell her to go see it to be additionally inspired.

A: There is precious little gay content in LOTR but if your friend needs to escape her current realities, these films might well help. Remind her that the actor playing Gandalf seems to have survived coming out, though his circumstances were less complicated than hers.




Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings