7 July 2004
Q: My wife and I usually see one of the LOTR parts once a month and my two daughters (3 and 5) already know exactly who Gandalf is. Grimas words to Eowyn at Theodreds deathbed were originally spoken by Gandalf to Eomer in the book. Was it disappointing for you not to have this dialogue or do you think this Shakespeare-like scene was worth the change?
A: I long since stopped objecting to the switches in dialogue from novel to screen, as so often they worked out to my advantage!
Q: Well, i am a addicted consumer of your e-posts (especially regarding LOTR), and cruising your website i suddenly thought of that scene with you and Mr Holm at Bag End when you hit your forehead against the ceiling... (eheheh). I heard Peter Jackson say in the DVD that it wasn't intended, and you just kept acting (very well, in my humble opinion)... Is this true? (I bet that Gandalf, the White would have seen it and avoid it...)
A: Peter, for once, is wrong. The head-banging was my idea but I'm glad if it seemed spontaneous, the aim of all actors.
Q: I would like you to know that seeing Fellowship of the Ring when it first came out has affected me in a way that literally changed my life. I am a trained musician, and I think my choice of instrument (harp) has a lot to do with my love for Tolkien's books, which I first read in my teens, in the 1980's. Seeing Fellowship on the screen was like coming home. I had tears in my eyes when the old map of Middle Earth appeared on screen, and they still flow freely every time I see the Shire and Bag End (and yes, it even works on dvd ;-) At the time I was stuck in a dead end part-time cash-providing but terminally brainless job in Berlin, Germany, while my musical career was slowly drying up completely. The impact of seeing the movie spun me out of my lethargy. I recorded my first solo cd, and then by a series of strange coincidences (though personally I think it may have been fate) I ended up in New Zealand, originally to give a series of concerts and workshops - but eventually I was offered a small teaching job at the University in Wellington. I'm also heavily involved in all sorts of performing activities in this incredible, creatively bubbling place, and I even got to visit the Weta studio and see the model of Minas Tirith! I just wish to thank you, and everyone involved in those movies, from my heart. It has been an inspiration for me to get up and find my own courage, and it will be an inspiration for the rest of my life.
A: I am very happy for you. New Zealand blesses all its visitors.
From: David Claes
Q: I just got "The Two Towers" in DVD. I watched the movie with some friends and everybody was inspired. But later we watched some scenes again and again to get every detail. In one scene Gandalf remembers his name (or let's say his name in the hobbit language), but that happens after he had met Merry and Pippin. How is it possible, that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli have to remind Gandalf, when Merry and Pippin talked to him first? How can this happen, when hundreds of people work for years for 10 hours of movie? Ok... there are no "big" mistakes...but i think it's strange. The movie still is the best i know :-)
A: You have a point but (without having checked in the novel) it is a slip that originates with Tolkien rather than the film-makers. On the other hand, it may be that Gandalf is still coming back to life when he meets the two hobbits and it is only when he sees the King-to-be that he fully returns to self-knowledge. Either way it was a moment I enjoyed acting!
From: Raymond van Driel
Q: On your website is a picture of signing the Gandalf the White two towers autograph card. This card is very nice but was never released by topps. Do you know the reason? There is speculation of a flaw in the card, but what is the flaw? What happened to the card? Do you have any left? I'm a big collector of LOTR cards and would love to have one.
A: I did not sign the Topps cards for The Two Towers because I didn't like the use of my title which was printed on them. My professional name is simply "Ian McKellen". It was too late to re-print the cards. I'm sorry this disappointed Topps as well as many collectors. And I feel a little silly as the cards for the first film, which I did sign, had also carried "Sir".
GANDALF A GOD?
Q: yesterday i went with friends to the cinema and watched 'ttt'. playing the scene where you arrive with shadowfax in helms deep i said to my friends 'wow, gandalf looks like a young God!!!' one said she thought that you are playing one.
A: No, Gandalf is not a god, young or old, but he answers to the higher powers as one of their representatives in Middle-earth.
RUSSIAN LOTR/MARLOWE SOCIETY
From: Richard L. Gage
Q: As a Tolkien and audio-book fan who understands Russian, I purchased a CD recording of what purports to be an unabridged version of the Lord of the Rings in Russian. It is by no means an unabridged version of the Tolkien original. The readers are a very mixed bag. The third-person narrator has a pleasant rumbling bass voice. Gandalf and Frodo are satisfactory. The elves are read by women, and the dwarves have such frogs in their throats that listening to them brings on the coughs. Boromir's lines are richly larded with Russian equivalents of "and uh;" and most mystsifying of all, Sam has a lisp. Please allow me to express my gratitude to you for your gay activism, for this splendid site, and for your work as an actor, in which I have been interested since the days of Mardian, if memory serves. (What happened to those Marlowe Society recordings of all the Shakespeare plays?)
A: The CD you describe reminds me to continue avoiding dubbed versions of my films. Voice is such an integral part of an actor's performance, that I always prefer to read subtitles than be confused by an alien contribution. Yes, I confess I was Mardian to Irene Worth's Cleopatra when I was a Cambridge undergraduate, supporting professional actors for the Argo/British Council recordings. The director George Rylands introduced us: "Here is your little eunuch Irene". Some years back there was a re-release with full cast lists, despite the Marlowe Society's tradition of anonymity.
LOTR BROUGHT US TOGETHER
Q: Sir, I am a 33 yr. old lesbian in the USA. My mother (who passed away a year ago from ALS) and I had a rough time for awhile dealing with that issue. At one point I was disowned for a number of years. In time, she realized that loving me as I am was more important than her fears. In the end she progressed in heart to the point of referring to my life partner as her "adopted daughter". She was a huge fan of LOTR and the Two Towers. She loved your character to the point of tears. She was unable to talk for the last year of her disease so she would write me notes. She wrote me one day after watching the dvd with my sisters "Did you know that Gandalf is gay, too?" followed by many smiley faces. It meant so much to me and I thought it would put a smile on your face as well. Thank you for being such a classy and beautiful man. Big love to you, kind Sir.
A: Thank you so much for your story and my love to you.
NO MORE AUTOS?
From: A J
Q: At a recent SciFi Event in London I was told by a stallholder that you are no longer autographing Lord of the Rings items. Is this so? Visits to your website show how responsive you are to your fans and find this unlikely.
A: I don't like to sign anything which is immediately offered for sale but I happily autograph stuff for charities which may well turn up on e-bay.
Q: I have heard that Sir Ian Mckellen continuously visits on-line Lord of the Rings forums such as The Lord of the Rings Fanactics Plaza (www.lotrplaza.com). Is this true?
A: My attention is often drawn to specific contributions to such sites and in return I know many visitors to this one have been forwarded thence. The wonders of the Net - and the frustrations; my attempt to enter lotrplaza has just failed!