Sir Ian McKellen recently spoke to MTV while promoting his re-imagining of the 1967 mini-series The Prisoner. It did not take long before the conversation jumped to the obvious priority of all news seekers: Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson‘s two-movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit. Topics discussed mainly hovered around his urge to return to the epic fantasy role that netted him an Academy Award nomination, the surprise arrival part of the script and the security lengths being taken to ensure its safety, and also his curiosity when it comes to del Toro and his directing methods.
McKellen states that he longs to become the “fantastic” Gandalf character again and can’t wait for production to start. He also speaks about how he and Jackson both preferred the original Gandalf the Grey character before he took on his god-like White persona. “He was more humane somehow. He was the guy who liked to hang out with the Hobbits and drink too much and smoke too much,” McKellen admits.
The actor wasn’t expecting to get anything to read from the script at all, but one day a package just showed up at his door. It was the script for at least the first of the two Hobbit movies, with possibly enough content for some to become part of the second movie, though it is not known what the script included. All that is known is how serious the studio is about protecting the script, even with a regal star like McKellen.
About three weeks ago, I was sitting in London and a courier arrived from New Zealand, which is the other side of the world, bearing the script of The Hobbit. It was tied around with so much Scotch tape that even with two pairs of scissors, I only got into it half an hour later.
The script had my name on every single page and a warning that each page was encrypted, so if it appeared on the Internet, it could be traced back to me. And I’m not to discuss it with you, or any colleague, or friend, or family member or pet. I may not write in the script, I may not remove it from its plastic folder, and when it is taken from me by the courier, it will be shredded under supervision!
McKellen went on to tell MTV about his work with Jackson in the first three films, and how the director sometimes required over twenty takes to get his perfect delivery. He then began to wonder…and maybe even worry about whether del Toro was the same way or not.
A slight shiver went through me just then, because I thought perhaps [Guillermo] might be a little quicker than Peter, but maybe he won’t be. He’s a bit of a perfectionist. But this script plays very much to his strengths and I can see where he’s put his mark already on the script.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all a little giddy to see these characters and this world come open back up to our child-like eyes, so it’s even more exciting to see the actors sharing that emotional connection.
If one had to guess, you might think this project will really get going once a Bilbo Baggins has been cast…but considering how long we’ve been waiting for that announcement to come, it’s anyone’s guess how long that might be.