Starting in 1999 with his casting as Gandalf and continuing through 2003, Ian McKellan wrote a blog called The Grey Book about his experiences starring in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. (His website is getting pounded right now, so check out the Internet Archive mirror if you can’t get through.)
So the journey has begun without me. On Monday 11th October, Elijah Wood et al gathered in Hobbiton — and I hear they are behaving themselves! I have been in Toronto, masquerading as Magneto, the master of magnetism, on the set of Bryan Singer’s “X-Men.” I have just sent Peter Jackson an e-mail of good luck. I don’t expect an immediate reply — directing a film is totally time-consuming.
Meanwhile, Tolkien aficionados are mailing to the “Grey Book.” From teenagers and readers old as wizards come the advice, the demands, the warnings — united by the hope that the film’s Gandalf will match their own individual interpretations of the Lord of the Rings. I take comfort from the general assurance that they approve of the casting (not just of me but of all the other actors so far announced - thrilling news that Cate Blanchett is joining us.) Yet how can I satisfy everyone’s imagined Gandalf? Simply, I can’t.