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?"

13 December 2003


From: justinrhoule@hotmail.com

Q: Hi Ian, in Fellowship, Gandalf is pretty harsh in his dealings with Pippin compared to the books. Will he show a softer side towards Pippin in Return of the King?

A: Pippin and Gandalf are good pals in Return of the King, sharing many journeys, escapades and battles. Their affection is strong and there is more time in the third film to develop their relationship than there was in the first.

Ian McKellen and Billy Boyd on the red carpet
Wellington, 1 December 2003
Photo by Keith Stern


From: Nick

Q: Will Gandalf use his hands in the fights of The Return of the King as in the book? Using his staff is becoming in the two previous movies a bit annoying. Also a rumor about a Gandalf-Saruman fight in The Return of the King is it true ?Will you visit Greece ?

A: Gandalf fights with staff and sword. There is no fight between the wizards in the third film much as Peter Jackson "likes to see the old boys at it!" I don't plan to be in Greece, I'm afraid.

"Gandalf" (Ian McKellen) rides towards Minas Tirith in New Line Cinema's epic film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Photo by Pierre Vinet/New Line Productions


From: Matt Taylor

Q: Would you advise a US college theater student to study abroad in Britain if the opportunity arises? Second question. Have you ever considered reuniting with Christopher Lee and making a film? I don't know if you realize how great it would be if the two of you made another movie together... I mean if it were just the two of you sitting across from one another and just talking for 90 minutes I and millions of other LOTR nerds would flock to theaters and pay good money to see it.

A: Not knowing you or your acting makes it difficult for me to advise you, but many American drama students do come to study in the UK. Some do the full stretch of two or three years at a drama school here, others just stay for a semester, to taste the British approach to theatre. I sometimes wonder whether the return home mightn't be a bit confusing. 

It would be an honour to work again with Christopher. As I don't know whether he is familiar with this site, I have forwarded our mails to him privately.


From: Kris

Q: The Two Towers, nearly a three hour movie, ended short. For instance Frodo and Sam did not even get to the Lair of Shelob, the part I was most looking forward to seeing. So, my question is, will ROTK encompass all that was left out of the second movie?

A: It was never going to be possible to include in the films every episode from the books. Shelob awaits however. As I write (early November 2003), Return of the King is not finally composed but it looks as if it will be the longest of the movies, maybe more than three hours.

[Webmaster's note: final running time for Return of the King is 3 hrs. 20 mins.]



From: Michael Krug

Q: I like you as Gandalf very much, but I miss Radagast, the third wizard (Istari) which cropped up in the "lord of the rings" books, very much. Is there a chance, to see him anywhere in the film (maybe in the last one), or at least somebody talked about him? After all he is the one how send in the big eagles which saved Gandalf from Isengard in "The Fellowship of the ring", expel the Nazgul at the battle at Morannon and saved Froddo and Sam after the ring was destroyed in "The Return of the king". And he is a member of the white Council (with Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, Elrond, Cirdan). Sorry for my confuse English. Greetings from Germany.

A: I appreciate your disappointment about the characters who have been omitted but promise you there is MUCH to relish in Return of the King. No Radagast but in compensation there is plenty of Shelob.

With the rest of the cast, I was in Berlin (6-11 December) for the European premiere.


From: Erica Challis Tehanu@theonering.net

Q: In my search for LOTR film locations in NZ, I couldn't help noticing that the most of them were swarming with millions of persistent irritating sandflies. Which made me wonder, how on earth did the film crew either repel them or ignore them while filming? Did the actors stoically ignore the maddening bites while the cameras were on, or did the makeup foil them somehow? How come we can't see them hovering in all the facial close-ups?

A: As an unpaid but enthusiastic proselytiser on behalf of all things kiwi, including the New Zealand tourist industry, I hesitate to mention the well-kept secret of sandflies, if that's their proper name. I first met them en masse at the glorious Milford Sound, where visitors (after the most beautiful drive in the world) are met, at least during the summer, by crowds of the little buggers. There are patent unctions which cope, and tobacco repels them too, but I hope you reckoned them an insignificant pest compared with the glory of their habitat.

Oddly, when filming I don't recall them at all. Honestly. Had there been, we would have set the Orcs on them.


From: CRH CroseH621@aol.com

Q: On the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring someone said (though I can't seem to rember who) that Christopher Lee was like the ghost of Tolkien on the set. Did you pearsonally feel that way? What was he really like? Did he constantly correct people's grammer (about elvish words ect.)? You rock!!!

A: Christopher Lee met Tolkien briefly in Oxford but is very much his own man. He is too much of a gentleman to correct anyone's grammar. Same here, when it comes to spelling!


From: jackieg@ihug.co.nz EmailOK: ON Name: Jackie NameOK: ON

Q: You should be Prime Minister, or President, of New Zealand. We would love to have you! Indeed having a darling man of your calibre on our shores has not only increased our cultural capital, but boosted our collective egos. Bless you, and may you return to New Zealand many more times. We adore you.

A: The affection is mutual. How could it not be when New Zealand has not only put Gandalf on your postage stamps three years running but also on a commemorative coin? I am legal tender!

[Webmaster's note: Click here to view/purchase LOTR Coins.]


Q: Did you not get the character's look, especially the particular hair and hat idea from some one you that day stated aloud was "the only cool person" there? It was the Columbus Bakers a few years ago. ITis located in Manhattan Upper Westside, West 83rd St and Columbus Avenue. You were sitting in the second room at a table East of the archway. He was sitting in the west end of the room. You kept looking at him. Did you pay him for for his visual persona? OR, did you feel entitled to neither ask his permission nor to pay him? Just how do you feel the most ethical and fairest transaction would be handled?

A: I honestly don't recall the encounter you describe. Gandalf's look was a collective discovery in New Zealand, which I describe in an early chapter of the Grey Book.

Michael, the Wizard of Christchurch NZ




Additional E-Posts about LOTR may be found in

The Lord of the Rings

DVD Release date 26 August 2003