Exclusive: McKellen IS Gandalf

Sir Ian confirms wizard's return

After months of speculation, the cinematic legend that is Sir Ian McKellen has confirmed that he is indeed preparing to dust off his grey wizard robes and cultivate himself a long, flowing beard to play Gandalf in Guillermo Del Toro’s adaptation of The Hobbit.

Speaking at a special screening of The Dark Knight at London’s Imax cinema on Monday night, he said: "Well, I haven’t had the contract yet but it’s everyone’s intention that I play Gandalf so yes, I will be returning to the role. Although it’s not until 2010, I’m very much excited about returning.”

While the dotted line has yet to be formally signed upon, Sir Ian has spoken at length with Del Toro about the Lord Of The Rings prequels and he’s seemingly very happy at the idea of making the journey back to Middle Earth - albeit with a new director at the helm.

“Well, if you’re not going to have Peter Jackson, who else can handle the job? To get an international film-maker of his standing who adores the original trilogy, well I don’t think you could possibly find a better replacement,” he said. “I think the look will be very much as it was, Weta is still involved, it’s still the same workshops, the same designers, I’ll be there, Andy Serkis (now confirmed to return as Gollum) will be there and Peter Jackson will still be around - not that he’ll interfere too much - so it’ll seem like the old family is getting back together again.”

Watch this space for all the latest development from The Hobbit.