26 December 2001
From: Steve Oder
Q: No annoying questions. Just gratitude from a new fan. The Fellowship premiered last night in my little town of Corvallis, Oregon, much as it did across this entire continent. At the end, the packed theater rose and applauded as if you were all right there in the room with us. Thank you Sir Ian. No one could have done that better. You will forever be Gandalf.
A: Many thanks for your mail which typifies a few hundred others from across the world. It's odd, when you think of it, to applaud shadows on a screen but I take it as a great compliment. I wonder if you stayed to view the long minutes of credits at the end. I recognise so many of the names as they quickly roll by and am reminded that although it's the actors and the heads of department who get the glory, the achievement belongs to many more.
From: Greg Kessler email@example.com
Q: I really love you as an actor, ever since Cold Comfort Farm, but while that movie did justice to the book, Lord of the Rings does not. In all of Middle Earth there are few beings as powerful as Gandalf, but here he was being dressed down by Elrond. I was really disappointed.
A: I wonder if you caught Gandalf's sly wink to Elrond at the end of the Council at Rivendell, when Aragorn pledges himself to the Fellowship and confounds Elrond's despair of Men. Gandalf is a good listener and you shouldn't mistake his silence as weakness. I hope you want to persevere with the next two films.
Q: I'm not the only one to have had this thought - have you been surprised by the positive reaction from the critics to your role? How do you rate your performance as Gandalf to your other work?
A: The most gratifying element of the critics' approval of my work on Fellowship of the Ring is the general acceptance that I am now a reliable film actor, rather than a stage actor who has wandered into the unfamiliar territory of cinema.
Q: If you don't get a Best Supporting Actor nod, a major international crime has been committed! You did a wonderful job, and I wonder if those accolades are important to you?
A: There are few actors who would turn down an award and this one would be thrilled to be acknowledged as a supporter of Peter Jackson's mammoth achievement. The principal prize, however, will always be the audience's approval, which so far seems almost unanimous. Wouldn't it be exciting if the film were nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Film, as it has already been for a Golden Globe by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?
From: Mike Curtis
Q: I am curious though as to how Gandalf gets his staff back from Saruman after he escapes the tower of Orthanc. My theory-Gandalf has a stash of staffs somewhere in a cave.
A: Many thanks for answering your own perceptive question!
From: Nathan Bowles firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: I have some questions about a few omissions from the film, however, and wonder if those scenes were shot and left out of the final print, or never shot at all. Specifically, why didn't Galadriel give gifts when the Fellowship left Lorien, why didn't we see Narsil reforged, and why wasn't Sam's relationship to Bill the Pony explained before Sam unwillingly leaves him at the entrance to Moria.
A: As far as I know these scenes were not included in the screenplay. As for Bill, I wonder whether he makes it safely home to Hobbiton as Aragorn promises in the film or whether, as in the novel, he succumbs to the Watcher outside the Moria doors.
From: Jason Fitzmaurice email@example.com
Q: You shattered my pre-conceived ideas of Gandalf and built an entirely new image of him before my eyes. Perhaps when I reread the book my old image of Gandalf will return, but you took on the supremely difficult task of doing battle with a preconceived vision, and you were victorious.
A: It is inevitable that the film's images will, like the book illustrations, impinge on the reader's imagination. But I like the idea that your own version of Gandalf may, eventually, live happily alongside mine.
From: Eric D. Malloy WonderEric@attbi.com
Q: 2 of my favorite characters in my entire life are Wonder Woman and Gandalf. I first read J.R.R Tolkien when I was 10 years old. I can not think of any person in the world I would rather have had play my favorite character than you.
Q: For a moment I wondered whether I had just forgotten that I ever played Wonder Woman . . . but no, she must remain a challenge for the future!
From: Chas firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Were any scenes you shot involving Gandalf that were dropped from final cut that YOU felt should have been included?
A: It is a mark of Peter Jackson's storytelling that I haven't missed anything that he cut from Gandalf's scenes. In the original screenplay there was a jolly interpolation that has now gone but which we filmed. Gandalf explained to Frodo at their first meeting that he had given up smoking and the two shared some toffees on the cart. As they drove through Hobbiton, Gandalf smelt the local pipeweed to which he eventually succumbed sitting with Frodo outside Bag End on the night of his birthday party. The smoke galleon marked his return to nicotine. Gandalf was again sucking toffee during the strictly no-smoking Council of Elrond. None of this is in the film but I wonder if it may be recovered for the DVD.
Q: I was just wondering about many of the Lord of The Rings merch there is out there. Particularily the Topps trading cards. Supposedly these are signed by the actors (including you). I have one signed by Christopher Lee, so I was wondering if they're real- I assume if you have signed some, then he has as well. I'm skeptic about it, as I guess that many actors have people to sign things for them these days.
Q: Two months back in my Broadway dressing room I signed 2500 of the Topps cards. It took about five hours. In selected packs you can find one card signed by one of the actors, encouraging you to buy and buy until you have a full set. My own signatures are really my own. No one else could be relied on to forge my scrawl.
Q: How do you top a project like this?
Q: By going onward and hopefully upward! So I say to myself each night as I go onstage as Edgar in Strindberg's Dance of Death - another great part in another mighty story.