Gandalf in The HobbitSeems Ian McKellen was seriously considering not returning as Gandalf. All the painful leadup to actually making the movie (from lawsuits with movie studios, to changing directors, to a union strike in New Zealand), made him rethink if he actually wanted to take on the role as Gandalf… Thankfully, he has one friend who pointed this out to him (from an entry posted on his blog):
What clinched it and made up my mind was the advice of a wise friend: “Ian, all those fans of the LOTR aren’t going to understand or care about your doubts. They just want to see you back as Gandalf.” And then I realised what I’d known all along, that I couldn’t bear to think of another actor donning the pointy hat and grey robes.
I can’t imagine anyone else taking the mantle of Gandalf from McKellen… he certainly embodies the character in a way I never imagined an actor might actually be capable of after being such a long-time fan of LOTR (certainly no other actor in the films was ever as indispensable as he was–someone else could’ve played Frodo, or Aragorn, or Gimli… but I don’t think anyone else could’ve played Gandalf).