Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf in the upcoming Lord of the Rings films, told SCI FI Wire that Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was “looking down or up” on writer/producer/director Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. “[Tolkien] was always there, just off the set, in every single scene,” McKellen said in an interview. McKellen plays Gandalf the Grey and, later, Gandalf the White in three films: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
McKellen added, “There were last-minute checks. ‘Have we got it right? Is that what he wanted? Is that what he intended?’ The devotion to that man, I think, was equal to everyone’s devotion to Peter Jackson. It was never, ‘Ah good, we’ve got this storyline, let’s see what we can do with it.’ Of course, it’s Peter Jackson’s vision of the films. It’s his imagination. It’s his response to [the stories].” The three films are based on Tolkien’s three Rings volumes of the same name.
The British actor, who’s currently on Broadway opposite Helen Mirren in Dance of Death and will soon reprise his role as Magneto in X-Men 2, elaborated further on his strong and positive feelings for Jackson. “When this film comes out, it will just say ‘New Line [Cinema] presents The Lord of the Rings,'” he said. “It’s not going to be ‘A Film by Peter Jackson.’ Now, wouldn’t you think you’d earned the right, having brought this project to life, to have your name up there? The man you meet is the man we saw every day. He’s only got one pair of shoes. He’s always in shorts. He’s always in the same shirt. He generates such enthusiasm just simply by being himself. He’s not a star, but his knowledge is formidable. You can go to him and absolutely get your answer.”