Ian McKellen E-Posts

"Mercy!" cried Gandalf: "if the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What do you want to know?"

28 July 2002

From: Eryca candi_cloudz@hotmail.com

Q: In the scene in "The Two Towers" where Gandalf lies naked, are you really going to be naked?

A: Yes really.

From: Michelle Craver

Q: I don't know if you would know this sort of thing, but what was your staff made of?

A: Gandalf the Grey used three main staffs, all looking identical. One was extra light wood for long journeys. Another was metallised, extra sturdy for fighting other wizards and Trolls. The third, for illuminating the Mines of Moria, was hollow, carrying juice from a heavy battery in my satchel to illuminate the "flame" on top. You will find that Gandalf the White carries a potent, elegant, wooden staff, painted white.

From: Lauren Wilson RockinJesusFreak@aol.com

Q: What did y'all do with the costumes and props after filming?

A: Everything, including some sets, was stored at the studios for the extra filming. Thereafter they will remain the property of New Line Cinema. A permanent exhibition of artefacts is not allowed by the Tolkien family estate. Promotion of the film is, however, permitted and the Toronto exhibition, organised by the Canadian distributors, displayed some of the movie's objects to great effect.

Q: One of the (few) discrepancies in the Fellowship of the Ring occurs when Gandalf says "Let the Ringbearer decide" whether or not to continue over Caradhras or try Moria. For me, this was quite out of character for Gandalf (in the book, Gandalf made the decision, after debate with Aragorn). I feel that it diminishes him as a leader and also reflects poorly on his willingness to accept responsibility. Can you provide any insight as to why this choice was made?

A: The change is akin to Frodo's solving the "Speak Friend and enter" riddle onscreen, which in the book is Gandalf's own discovery. Collapsing the extended story of the books to fit the confines of a relatively short film, the screenplay writers wanted to show Gandalf's gradually handing over responsibility to the ringbearer. As such, I thought these marginal alterations worked, although I appreciate your concern.

From: Darth Tater darthtater@tolkientrail.com

Q: I was a bit surprised that Saruman of Many Colors was left out of the film. I understand the reasoning behind this, since the story is so complex and some aspects obviously had to be simplified. However, when Gandalf the White confronts Saruman in The Two Towers, I can't imagine them both wearing the same robes. It just wouldn't feel right.

A: The two wizards are similarly robed in The Two Towers as there is an initial confusion amongst the fellowship who mistake Gandalf the White for Saruman the White. "I am Saruman. Or rather Saruman as he should have been." The long-faced similarity between Christopher Lee and myself adds to the effect.

From: maija.pietikainen@helsinki.fi

Q: Greetings from Finland! I've seen the Fellowship of the Ring several times now. I have tons of questions, but I'll only ask this one. What does Gandalf say to the moth on the top of Orthanc? Only word that I can recognise is "Gwaihir". Is the rest only some meaningless words? Or is it Elvish?

A: Just a few Moth-ish words which I whispered to my empty hand. I didn't actually see the moth until I saw the film.

From: Kathy Schickling

Q: I am 40 years old, lost my job in October 2001 and had been rather depressed. Possibly a mid-life crisis? The LOTR movie came along, which I had been waiting for, for 25 years, and amazingly I have taken heart from it and it has given me renewed strength and purpose to tackle life's obstacles. Thank you!

A: And thank you for letting me know.

From: Barbara Fitzgerald

Q: I cried with joy the first time I saw the movie and all of my beloved characters stood before me in the flesh! This is THE best film I have ever seen & I am a 56 year old grandmother who has seen many! Thank you, thank you !

A: And thank you too. 

From: Rastko

Q: When Gandalf falls down the pit in Moria with the Balrog, everyone believes that he died. But when he returns, the very first people that he meets are Aragorn, Gimli,and Legolas. They notice that he is white, and to me as I read this, Gandalf appears to be a Christ-like figure. Even in the Bible, when Christ resurrects, the very first people he meets are three women. Christ also appears in a white robe, just like Gandalf. Do you believe that there is some kind of link between the Bible and The Lord of the Rings?

A: Tolkien was not much moved by those who read his stories as allegory. After all, myths can be interpreted in many ways. I don't see Gandalf as a deity, rather a servant of the higher powers who send him back to finish the job that he started with the fellowship.

Q: I went to http://www.lotrfanclub.com, run by Decipher. I post sometimes on their message boards. Anyway, I began to notice a disturbing thing about what words were and weren't allowed. I noticed one young lady say something to the effect of "Is Sir Ian, well, ya know?" she just wasn't sure, she thought you were kewl either way. So, I read the responses, to see how much bigotry there was, in fact, there was very little, and most people were like, "so?!" I began to notice that no one actually said "gay" or "homosexual" on the message board. So, I tried, and it blocked the letters out for "gay" with "***". I also said the word hell in a sarcastic way ("Hell Yeah!") and it was bleeped too. I then noticed a message that said we needed to keep the boards g-rated. Probably in response to my two bleeps. I thought, ok, I can understand "Hell", but "gay"?! I posted a message asking why that word was considered a "bad" word. Went back the next day to see if any of the moderators had responded, and my whole message had been removed from the site. No answer, no one emailed me explaining anything. In my opinion, and you may disagree with me, is that by saying the word "gay" is inappropriate, you are in fact saying there is something wrong with being "gay" or that it's a "curse" word. This to me is offensive, but I am also heterosexual, a heterosexual who's a radical activist and GLBT issues is one of the issues I work on. I posted on the board also that I was glad you had on national tv held hands with your significant other. Bravo Ian!

A: What a depressing saga and there I was assuming that the Internet was broadening folks' minds. If the aim is to shield the unsuspecting from the realities of the world it is misguided — not mentioning gay people doesn't make us disappear and adds a little to our problems when we speak out on our own behalf. By the way, I do not receive any mail that is critical of my openness as a gay man but I don't think I'll test the censorship of Decipher's site!

[Webmaster's note: Decipher have decided to stop censoring the word "gay" on their message boards.]

From: Kerstin Friedrichs Erinys@hotmail.com 

Q: Heyhey, well, Iīve seen you and your partner holding hands at the Oscar Awards. Great! There should be more people like you two. Actions like these are brave and admirable. Beautiful, it looked beautiful, itīs really great to see people who differ from the masses, and who are able to show, how normal it is to be different. I believe that itīs that way that society can be changed and become more tolerant.

A: Thank you and are you familiar with http://www.lotrfanclub.com?

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Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings