Ian McKellen Explores The Lighter Side Of Gandalf On The Set Of The Hobbit

By Eric Eisenberg 2012-10-26 16:06:50discussion comments
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This shoot's been going on since July. I bet you've had breaks, of course. Have you been on every single part of the shoot, or have you been able to do other productions in between?

Like a number of the cast, I've been able to go away, because many of these hiatuses we've had in between-- We've done three blocks, so in between block one and two, I was able to go back to England and do a play, which takes some time. You rehearse, and then you have to play it. So since I'd been back this time, in late February, I haven't had much to do on the sets. That's why I've had time to organize a one-man show, which I'm currently taking around New Zealand on the weekends, to keep me feeling active.

When you were talking about acting opposite the tennis ball, while they're on another screen, doing one-man shows must be kind of similar to that, where you're like, "I'll just have to create the whole world in my head", and just go for it.

Yes. When people in the past have asked me about green screen, I said, "Well, it's only scenery", and when you're on stage, you're not really in a castle, you're not really out of doors, you're not really where you say you are. You just say you are, and there you are, and that's the imagination that happens in the theater. That imagination is translated in film by the film magicians and all the technology. So it doesn't worry an actor that when he's meant to be in the middle of nowhere, he's actually in the middle of a studio. You use your imagination. What's complicated is when you're doing that, but all the rest of the cast are not having to do that, because they're in a real place and looking at each other and not having to pretend. Does that answer the question?

Gandalf comes out much more as a mischievous trickster character in The Hobbit. Do you feel like you were playing it a lot more light in The Hobbit, or because Gandalf is aware of larger things going on in Middle Earth, are you still...

Well, that is a little bit of a dilemma. A bit of both, it depends on what the situation is. The overall view is, "I better keep an eye on these dwarves." Particularly Thorin, who is a bit out of control, and not easily managed. So that's clearly an ongoing relationship. Will Thorin do it Gandalf's way, or will Gandalf have-- Gandalf loses his temper with him at one point. And then at other times, it is light-hearted, yes.
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