Sir Ian McKellen Shares Experiences 20 Years After Filming Lord Of The Rings

It’s been almost two decades after Peter Jackson’s iconic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy ended with 2003’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. 20 years after filming the last movie in the legendary movie franchise, Sir Ian McKellen (who plays the wizard Gandalf) reflects on when he first arrived to film in New Zealand all those years ago.

He shared his old blog posts that he wrote (which you can check out by heading to this link) from 20 years ago on his personal Twitter account, recounting his experiences from then.


Sir Ian McKellen started by saying that he wouldn’t have looked forward to filming The Lord Of The Rings if not for the director, Peter Jackson, and the place for shooting, New Zealand, which is will forever be popular with tourists for having been the place where The Lord Of The Rings movies were shot.

“If it weren’t the director of Heavenly Creatures in control, with a strong vision of all those precise, quirky, majestic locations, I should not much look forward to a full year away from my home in London.

But Peter Jackson’s designs, script and his unshowy dedication to the task are irresistible. Had I been unable to play Gandalf (because of an encroaching X-Men schedule), I should have hoped for another less time-consuming part later in the trilogy.”

Even back then, Sir Ian McKellen recognises how iconic and legendary The Lord Of The Rings could be, musing over its timelessness, as well as acknowledging how he can’t possibly satisfy every single Tolkien fan out there with his portrayal of Gandalf. That’s a problem even current actors have when portraying beloved fan-favourite characters in movie adaptations.

“Meanwhile, Tolkien aficionados are mailing to the “Grey Book.” From teenagers and readers old as wizards come the advice, the demands, the warnings – united by the hope that the film’s Gandalf will match their own individual interpretations of the Lord of the Rings.

I take comfort from the general assurance that they approve of the casting (not just of me but of all the other actors so far announced – thrilling news that Cate Blanchett is joining us.)

Yet how can I satisfy everyone’s imagined Gandalf?

Simply, I can’t.

I recognise the responsibility of course.

It’s not as if LOTR were a play that could be revived over and over, each new cast adding to the discoveries that their predecessors have made. The Jackson trilogy will be unique.

It is, after all, unlikely that there will be a re-make any time soon – although there have already been the cartoon “Hobbit” (which I have yet to see) and the BBC’s radio LOTR (with Ian Holm as Frodo).

But some of my correspondents seem to think that actors are essayists or critics who analyse a character’s complexities and then parade them, like sticking on a false beard.

It’s just not like that.”

He also praises the practical and special visual effects of The Lord Of The Rings movies.

“Answering these and weightier puzzles is the responsibility of the designers and their craftspeople who have been in training for 2 years at the WETA workshops in Wellington.

I have seen the results of their deliberations – and been overwhelmed.

Their work on masks, armoury, weapons is almost complete and it is complementary to that of the visual effects experts who will enhance the New Zealand landscapes.

They have solved how to make the Hobbits appear to be the right size, in any number of ways, most too complicated for me to understand.

They know whether Gollum be an actor or a puppet or a computer effect or all three.

They have designed Hobbiton and built it — a year ago so it has weathered — and allowed the vegetation to grow round about.”

These Sir Ian McKellen blog posts might not load properly, or it might take some time to do so. That’s because these were written and published over two decades ago. The Internet was a different time then. Try opening a similarly-old website from back then and you’ll probably have the same slow experience.

We have lost too many legends and icons recently, but Sir Ian McKellen is a living legend. We should appreciate the actor while he’s still with us, and cherish the fact that he’s sharing his precious experiences with us.


Author: Alleef Ashaari

Aspiring writer. Born in Amsterdam, raised in Malaysia. Comics are my passion. A gamer and science fiction enthusiast. PSN: AlleefAshaari

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