Actor Ian McKellen (X-Men) will return to the Shire in his familiar role as the great wizard Gandalf the Gray in the upcoming trilogy of films to be based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”
McKellen, now 68, made the announcement in the latest edition of Empire Magazine.
The last time we saw him in Tolkien’s universe was in the “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson.
For the Hobbit films Jackson will stay out of the center seat, at least for the first one and second one, and famed “Pan’s Labyrinth” filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will direct entries one and two. Jackson will act as the film’s producer.
“Yes, it’s true,” McKellen said. “I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it’s not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf.”
“The Hobbit” will enjoy the same gorgeous scenery as the LOTR because all three of the films will also be shot on locations throughout New Zealand.
The shooting schedule is all set for next year with film number one slated for release sometime in 2010 and the second in 2011. All three movies will be filmed back-to-back as was done with the LOTR.