Exclusive: McKellen talks The Hobbit

Sir Ian on Tolkien... and Magneto

Guillermo Del Toro, the loveable big-mouth that he is, may have already confirmed that Sir Ian McKellen is set to return as Gandalf The Grey in his two-movie adaptation of The Hobbit - but in the ever-changing world of moviedom you just can’t believe what you hear until it comes from the horse’s mouth.

So, on spotting The Lord Of The Rings star at the UK premiere of Speed Racer (no, we don’t know what he was doing there either), we grabbed him for a quick chat.

“Yes, it’s true,” he said. “I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it’s not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf.”

So he’s happy to be back in the robes again?

“We talk occasionally and he’s looking forward to coming out of retirement, yes,” he said. “Guillermo will be getting around to starting the script in about six weeks when he’s finished filming Hellboy 2.”

The major question on everybody’s lips is what are they going to do with the second film, which takes place directly after The Hobbit and before Fellowship of the Ring?

“Well I’ve read The Hobbit so I’ve got a good idea of what the story would be,” said McKellen. “But as to how it’s going to work over two films and what going to happen on screen, well Guillermo has not got down to working out the major details yet – I can tell you it’s going to be amazing though.”

While on the subject of big-screen returns, what are the chances of McKellen re-appearing as the Master Of Magnetism in the long-mooted X-Men spin-off?

“They are making a Magneto spin-off but I don’t think it will involve me because it’s about the younger Magneto, it’s a back-story.”

But surely with the anti-aging special effects employed in the third X-Men film he could well reprise the role, at least for a cameo?

“Would I be willing to return to play a young Magneto? A cameo in my own movie? I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think I could get away with playing a 19-year-old.”

Watch this space for all the latest Hobbit-related developments.