Sir Ian McKellen hopes actors who turned down Gandalf role in Lord of the Rings 'feel silly'
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Sir Ian McKellen hopes actors who turned down Gandalf role in Lord of the Rings 'feel silly'. And he’s got the position to be able to say that. The man’s a total legend.
But one name that a lot of people know the 84-year-old for in particular is Gandalf, from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Now looking back on some of his most iconic roles, McKellen wonders if perhaps other actors regret passing on the chance to play the wizard.
Variety recently asked the star if he ever felt bad when he wasn’t necessarily a casting director’s first choice for a role.
“I don’t think you’re ever the first choice,” he said. "I certainly wasn’t the first choice for Gandalf. Tony Hopkins turned it down.
“Sean Connery certainly did. They’re all coming out of the woodwork now, and I hope they feel silly.”
McKellen played Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of The King before taking a break from the role for a few years.
He then returned to play Gandalf in The Hobbit trilogy. The actor did, however, turn down a famous role himself though.
In an interview with the BBC, McKellen revealed that he'd turned down the role of Dumbledore in Harry Potter over a previous actor’s ‘insult’.
As most Potterheads already know, the iconic Hogwarts Headmaster was played by two different actors in the film franchise.
In the first two movies, Richard Harris played Dumbledore, followed by Michael Gambon for films 3-8.
Harris sadly died in 2002 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in August that year.
McKellen discussed Harris being a critic of his and lumping fellow actors Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi together.
Harris called them 'technically brilliant but passionless', in which McKellen described as 'nonsense'.
The star said he wansn’t interested in the role as a result of this and explained: “When they called me up and said if I would be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn't say what part.
"I worked out what they were thinking, and I couldn't take over the part from an actor I know didn't approve of me.
“When he died, he played Dumbledore, the wizard. I played the real wizard."