Sir Ian McKellen hopes the actors who said no to playing Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings 'feel silly'
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The legendary Sir Ian McKellen has confessed that he hopes actors who turned down the role of Gandalf before him 'feel silly'.
Starring as the beloved wizard in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and then reprising his role for the prequel The Hobbit trilogy, McKellen has played Gandalf The Grey/White for several years.
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The 84-year-old film icon recently reflected on his long career, specifically the colourful cast of characters he’s lent his talent to over the years.
In an interview with Variety, the star was asked if he ever felt bad for not being Peter Jackson’s first choice to play Gandalf all those years ago, as the role was offered to several qualified performers before eventually falling into the hands of McKellen. He said: “I don’t think you’re ever the first choice. I certainly wasn’t the first choice for Gandalf. Tony Hopkins turned it down … Sean Connery certainly did. They’re all coming out of the woodwork now, and I hope they feel silly.”
Honestly, it’d be hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Gandalf, whose popularity rivals that of Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series, which, oddly enough, was also offered to McKellen, who turned it down.
The role ended up going to Richard Harris, who played the headmaster of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before unfortunately passing away in 2002. The role was then given to Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore in all of the other films.
McKellen said the reason he didn’t take over after Harris passed away was due to comments made by the actor regarding McKellen and his friends. Harris reportedly described them as 'technically brilliant but passionless'. It was for this reason that McKellen said he didn’t want to take the role, saying: “I couldn't take over the part from an actor I know didn't approve of me.”
In the end, he obviously made the right decision, as he’s still recognised all over the world as the all-powerful wizard, Gandalf.