Ian McKellen Reprises Gandalf Role in ‘Hobbit’ Movie

In the upcoming fantasy adventure The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins' comfortable life in the Shire is shaken by the arrival of the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, who has ambitious plans for the unsuspecting Hobbit.

Once again playing the wise, intuitive, and occasionally mischievous Wizard is Ian McKellen in director Peter Jackson‘s first epic in a series of three films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Among McKellen’s many acclaimed roles, perhaps his most iconic has been his embodiment of Gandalf, in all his incarnations, in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. “Seeing Ian McKellen on set in his costume with his beard and hat, that’s Gandalf,” Peter Jackson says. “It crosses over between movie character and cultural icon in a strange way.”

Though the esteemed actor had trepidation about repeating himself, he ultimately couldn’t resist the prospect of once again donning the robes, beard and hat of Gandalf. “Going back to this character was perhaps not as enticing as taking on a new role, and it was a big commitment, but, in the end, I couldn’t really bear anyone else playing Gandalf,” McKellen says. “And over the years I’ve heard from quite a lot of fans that they’d be upset if I didn’t play him. So, I was thrilled to come back and spend time with this wonderful family again.”

In the film, Gandalf has chosen to advise and accompany the Dwarf Lord Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on his mission into the Wastelands of the Lonely Mountain to take back Erebor, the lost kingdom and homeland of his tribe, which was long ago attacked and conquered by the Dragon Smaug. “Gandalf seems to like Dwarves, or admire them,” McKellen says. “And because he’s old—6,000 or more years—he can put the current situation into context of recent and past history, and make a judgment that now is the time to help them.”

And Gandalf sees Bilbo as a critical piece of the puzzle—to be their secret weapon if and when they reach Erebor. “Gandalf, who is advising the Dwarves on strategy and tactics, thinks they need a burglar,” Jackson explains. “Somebody who could sneak into Erebor right under the Dragon’s nose, and Gandalf likes the idea of a Hobbit because Dragons aren’t aware of their smell. He wants Bilbo to be that burglar.”

That’s news to Bilbo, who has never stolen anything in his life. But, having met Bilbo as a child, Gandalf believes he’s the right Hobbit for the job. “I think Gandalf lands on Bilbo because he remembered him as a feisty lad who was up for anything,” McKellen describes. “He discovers, to his surprise, that this bright boy has settled into a life of some complacency. But Gandalf suspects that inside Bilbo, somewhere, there is the right spirit for adventure.”

A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be released in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012.

The second film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” will be released on Dec. 13, 2013, to be followed by “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” on July 18, 2014.

Watch the trailer here:

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