Actor Ian McKellen is known for playing the wise wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie franchises, but he was not the first choice for the part. Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery turned it down, and now McKellen has reflected on how he feels about not being the first choice to play a role that he is now synonymous with.
“I don’t think you’re ever the first choice,” he told Variety. “I certainly wasn’t the first choice for Gandalf. Tony Hopkins turned it down. Sean Connery certainly did. They’re all coming out of the woodwork now, and I hope they feel silly.”
Patrick Stewart and Christopher Plummer were all in the running to play Gandalf. But in the end, McKellen got the part, playing Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King. Then he came back to play Gandalf again in the Hobbit trilogy.
McKellen earned an Academy Award nomination for Fellowship of the Ring, and that was his second nomination, following his nod for 1999’s Gods and Monsters. Outside of Middle-earth, McKellen is known for his role in the X-Men series and plenty of other films and plays. His next movie is The Critic, which is in theaters this month.
McKellen also said in the Variety interview that he has no plans to retire.
“Retire to do what?” he said. “I’ve never been out of work, but I’m aware that any minute now something could happen to me which could prevent me from ever working again. But while the knees hold up and the memory remains intact, why shouldn’t I carry on? I really feel I’m quite good at this acting thing now.”
There are more Lord of the Rings movies in the works now, but it’s still early days.
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