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?"

28 August 2004 


Q: In film 3, the scene of Gandalf and Pippin discussing what happens after death was quite impressive. Whether drawing from a personal near-death experience, or from imagination, it was an exceptional scene. How did you prepare for it?

A: Little preparation was needed. Seated by the doors behind which the battle raged, it was easy to imagine and speak of impending death.


From: kat

Q: Regarding the tattoos that The Nine (plus PJ) received: Was there a pact made among the 9 of you not to show them to the media? And if there was, how do you feel about the fact that Elijah Wood showed his on Jay Leno, and then, Sean Astin (using Elijah's showing as an excuse) showed his on Oprah? I also heard that Dominic, even though was asked to show his in an interview, declined, saying "Even though others broke the pact I'm not about to."

A: I think we did decide to keep our tattoos private, mainly because some of them are on private parts of the body. I've shown mine (right upper arm) but some will never be seen on primetime.


From: Bianka

Q: Did Lord of The Rings change you as a person? - things you have read in the books or just making these beautiful films. Did it touch you in your heart, some feeling that you will hold dear? it did with me! it gives me hope! for a better life, and to fight for it!

A: My abiding memory of filming was not so much the story — much as I admire the Fellowship — rather discovering New Zealand, its landscapes and its people. They certainly entered my heart where they remain.


From: Philip

Q: The NZ and production photos are wonderful. Please can you tell me what that odd boot sticking out from beneath your cloak in the 'Three Gandalfs' photo is? Is there a fourth, hobbit-sized stunt double down there or did a 'Gandalf the Pegg' scene end up on the cutting room floor?

A: Your guess is as good if not better than mine. A forgotten joke perhaps to do with the goulashes that were available for wet weather - but the sun seems to be shining. A prize perhaps for the most inventive explanation, huh webmaster?



From: Dawn

Q: I have just finished reading your Grey and White Books. I guess there is a voyeur in all of us to some extent, because I found them both to be compelling. I also saw the South Bank show. Thank you so much, for letting us peek into your world and see that the acting world isn't as glamorous as some would have us believe and in fact, is damned hard work. I particularly enjoyed watching the performance the children gave you and Gandalf in curlers gave me a chuckle and your reaction to the goodie bag you received at the oscars. One question...your bronze Gandalf which you put outside your home is a magnificent piece but very expensive. Weta Workshops made only 36 of these made. I am curious to know if they gave you the first one..and if not..why not!

A: The Gandalf bronze which is weathering nicely in London's rain and shine is number one in the edition. I paid for it.



From: Angela

Q: I'm not sure if this has been posted yet but what was it like working with Ian Holm??

A: It was a total delight which I recall early on in The Grey Book.



From: Archie

Q: I am in the Coast Guard and recently returned from a tour on the west coast. I returned home in time to watch the Return of the King with my mom who had become a huge fan of the movie trilogy. She especially enjoyed you as Gandalf and said she understood why I enjoyed the books as a child and said she was going to read them as well. Unfortunately she died in a car accident in May of this year and didnt get a chance to finish the books. My wife myself and my children miss her terribly but we always talk about how much "Gram loved the movie and especially Gandalf". Thank you so much for making such a treasure and giving us a fond memory my family and I will remember always.

A: It is impossible to overestimate the variety of ways in which storytelling on the page, the stage or the screen can affect audiences. Thank you for telling your experience and my best to the family.



From: Frater Yechidah

Q: The scene of Gandalf the Grey's death reminds me so much of my studies into the "God-Man" of mythology (applicable to almost all civilisations). Was it purposefully designed that Gandalf would fall with his arms outstretched (i.e. Jesus hanging on the cross, or the "Osiris Slain" stance)? I'm just wondering, because Tolkien was no doubt a great scholar of mythology, and the recurring theme of the resurrecting God-Man seems to be the basis of Gandalf's character.

A: Many times audiences detect things that were never intended by the actors, as in this case. I think I wanted to Gandalf to lie in a vulnerable position, open to the elements. In the book isn't he naked, which we half-suggested in the film?



From: Paulo Quiros

Q: Having admired your performance in LOTR (and in X-men) as well as those of your co-stars Ian Holm and Christopher Lee in particular (no offence to the rest of the cast who were excellent as well) it occured to me that of the actors I admire the most in the world there is not a single one under the age of 50. I won't prattle on about all my favorite actors but I'll say that along with the three mentioned Ben Kingsley, Jim Broadbent, Liam Neeson and Julie Andrews are on the list, for example. As a young actor myself I am interested in what gives all these great men and women such a powerful presence.

A: It's likely, isn't it, that with age and experience actors improve? A powerful presence however can be in-built so that quite young actors have an undeniable charisma, although that is perhaps to do with sex-appeal, which is ageless. Your list of actors contains two of my absolute favourites, too.



Q: Me and my friend would like to know if you can give us your phone number, as well as the phone number of some of the cast members. (Such as Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, David Wenham...) We understand if you cannot.

A: You are right — I cannot.



Q: Hi! I have always wondered why the White Wizard's beard has grown shorter than the Grey's. Do you have any explanation for this?

A: Gandalf the White is a much more organised fellow than the grey wanderer, who had clearly mislaid his razor. I wanted to look more like a samurai than a homeless man. Hence the neater appearance all round.




Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings