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12 March 2000

Q: Why is Peter Jackson starting with The Lord of The Rings? What about The Hobbit? What about Bilbo, the dwarves, and Smaug the dragon?

A: Until you asked, I hadn't thought about it but I admire the ambitiousness of the three-film project. After all The Lord of the Rings is the masterpiece, Peter Jackson's Everest. Modern New Zealanders begin with Captain Cook who sailed across the world. Edmund Hillary, the America's Cup winners, some advanced social attitudes that lead the world, the sport, Peter Jackson they share a national character. I wonder who owns the film rights to The Hobbit et al?

Q: Have you been approached to play Gandalf in a film of The Hobbit?

A: I have no knowledge of a prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" movie.

Q: Will all the actors be using English or other British accents?

A: I am not privy to the accents of all the other actors, many of whom have not yet started filming. Gandalf seems to speak somewhat like Professor Tolkien.

Q: Gandalf the Gray is a much more down to earth being, while Gandalf the White shows the Wizard exhibiting much more power and strength. Are you going to show this distinction dramatically or do you think you will make it more subtle?

A: There will be changes to costume and general appearance and awareness that Gandalf the White is younger-looking than his earlier incarnation. Otherwise we shall both have to wait and see. With 10 months filming ahead, I am absorbed still with Gandalf the Grey.

Q: Are there any scenes from the books that you are specifically looking forward to flexing your acting abilities in?

A: I was most looking forward to Gandalf's arrival in Hobbiton for the long-expected party food, fireworks and a pipeful of Longbottom Leaf. A wonderful chance to show Gandalf's crucial fascination with the Hobbit world. Otherwise the face-off with the Balrog should be exciting, although I expect it will involve camera trickery more than physicality from me.

Q: Have the producers actively used Tolkien's published letters?

A: The scriptwriters, director, designers and cast have available to them the full library of Tolkien and his followers. I enjoy the professor's letters and also his readings from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I am encouraged by the theatricality of his readings full of rhythm and humour and characterisation. Without question Gandalf is like Tolkien but then so, I suspect, are Frodo and Aragorn. It is an astonishing achievement to have centred a mythology on such people.

Q:  Maybe you could get some of the rest of the cast or crew to write down their thoughts from time to time. 

A: I am not the movie's publicist! Visit the film's official site at www.lordoftherings.net for "Live on the Set" reports.

Q: Obviously, Gandalf is a fabulous part but was it working with Peter Jackson or the idea of working on probably the most important English epic that drew you to the project more?

A: All three.

Q: Have you heard anything about the type of score Peter Jackson is looking for? Is it going to be something unusual?

A: Well, what do you think? Maybe usual and unusual. Peter has not yet decided on a composer although he often mentions the importance of music in telling the story.

Q: There has been a Japanese animated version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy already completed. In your October 14th Grey Book you forgot to mention this, or did not know about it.

A: I did not know about it.

Q: Will you be taking any of your inspiration for Gandalf from the late Sir Michael Hordern's portrayal of the wizard on the highly-acclaimed BBC radio production of The Lord of the Rings in 1981?

A: Please read the Grey Book.

Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings

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