Ian McKellen reflects on 'tiresome' script changes which kept 'Lord of the Rings' cast on their toes

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Ian McKellen as Gandalf. (Credit: New Line Cinema)
Ian McKellen as Gandalf. (Credit: New Line Cinema)

Ian McKellen says script changes on Lord of the Rings were “tiresome”, but had the effect of keeping the cast “on our toes”.

In an interview with Empire recirculated to mark the anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring in December, Elijah Wood asked McKellen what he made of daily alterations to the script on Peter Jackson’s set in New Zealand.

Read more: Peter Jackson reveals favourite Lord of the Rings scene

The 81-year-old Brit said: “It was tiresome, wasn’t it? Particularly for this theatre actor who has spent a career honouring a text, honed and settled before production starts.

“Still, it kept us on our toes and I always had the paperback Lord of the Rings hidden in my robe, to refer to.”

Watch: Ian McKellen receives COVID-19 vaccine

McKellen also said he “missed the old team of actors” when he returned to the franchise for prequel trilogy The Hobbit, which was released between 2012 and 2014.

He said: “Mind you, it was a joy to work with Martin Freeman and the dwarves. I was glad to be rid of that old stick Gandalf the White. The Grey was always my favourite.”

Read more: Orlando Bloom can’t wait to see Lord of the Rings TV show

McKellen was one of the few Lord of the Rings cast members to reprise his role in the Hobbit series, alongside Orlando Bloom as Legolas.

Other members of the original ensemble — including Elijah Wood and Ian Holm — returned for cameo appearances.

Sir Ian McKellen attending the Cats Photocall held at The Corinthia Hotel, London. (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sir Ian McKellen attending the Cats Photocall held at The Corinthia Hotel, London. (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)

McKellen has remained intimately connected to Lord of the Rings and the work of author J.R.R. Tolkien, joining a recent campaign to purchase the late author’s Oxford home.

Project Northmoor aims to turn the Grade II-listed property into a “literary centre” honouring the writer.

Read more: Lord of the Rings cast recreate iconic scene

Meanwhile, a gargantuan Amazon TV series based on Lord of the Rings is currently being produced in New Zealand, with the streamer shelling out to bring Tolkien’s world to life again.

The Fellowship of the Ring is set to mark its 20th birthday later this year, so fans will have plenty of excuse to revisit Middle Earth before the year is out.

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