Guillermo del Toro’s hasty departure from The Hobbit just got a little stranger. The director left the project in the lurch after saying he couldn’t wait any longer, and indicating that they had no idea when it would start. But one of the movie’s stars seems to think otherwise.

Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and will play him again in The Hobbit showed up on an Australian radio station and told them, “The sets are ready, the script is ready and the movie is going to be cast this month.” A bold proclamation since the movie doesn’t even have a director. But he insists, “Fans are not to get worried. The films will get made and I suspect we'll start shooting at the end of this year.”

Normally I’d be quick to dismiss this as an actor simply being out of the loop on some of the ancillary turmoil going on with the project. You can’t expect Ian McKellen to wear that pointy wizard hat and be up to date on all the intricacies of MGM’s financial woes. But McKellen’s admonition for fans not to be worried seems to indicate he has at least some awareness of what’s up. Maybe The Hobbit is moving faster than we thought.

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