Interviews: Ian McKellen on The Lord of the Rings !

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It’s here, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will take over theaters starting next Wednesday, December 17! We got a chance to sit down with the cast and crew of the highly-anticipated third and final film, and we start with Ian McKellen, who once again reprises his role as the Wizard Gandalf. In “Return of the King”, Gandalf urgently tries to rally Gondor’s broken army to action. In the face of great losses, they charge forward into the battle of their lifetimes, tied together by their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give the Ring Bearer a chance to complete his quest

McKellen says that he talked about his role to a group of journalists who all write for religious papers. “[They] asked me what it was like to play the Savior, as they thought Gandalf was. Well, I had to explain that I thought one of the nice things about Hobbits in the perfect village was that there was no church in it. There wasn’t a credo, there wasn’t a Pope, there wasn’t a Bishop telling people what to do in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’”

He also addressed the talk that the relationship between Frodo and Sam has a gay subtext. “If you choose to see in Sam and Frodo’s relationship a sexual one, that’s fine. I don’t think Tolkien did. And the relationship is much more familiar to British readers and audiences as master and servant. Frodo is middle-class. Sam is the gardener. He calls him Mr. Frodo till the end. There’s a formality in their relationship in battle, in the army where I suppose still, the British class system survives strongly, it is nevertheless broken down in the heat of fighting together. And it’s comradeship that the relationship is celebrating.”

Does he think Gandalf has a Shakespearean language in the trilogy? “I mean sometimes Shakespeare is very intense and naturalistic. That’s the requirements. Having done Shakespeare and not minding waving my arms around and shouting meant that I wasn’t frightened of doing the same as Gandalf. I don’t know what’s Shakespearean about “Lord of the Rings.” Perhaps Frodo’s journey, Shakespeare loved to send young people out on a journey.”

McKellen received a supporting actor nomination for “Fellowship of the Ring” and the Oscar buzz is picking up again for the third film. “It’d be wonderful if this whole adventure was given the accolade as it were, a tap on the shoulder, to speak in British terms, of being told well done,” he says. “I think it would be highly appropriate for the Academy voters in their separate way, because of course they don’t vote as a committee, one just does what they feel is right, would want to celebrate the making of these films, which is unique. But they’re not going to be any less unique if Oscar decides to celebrate some other achievement.”

We can’t agree more. Fans are also eagerly awaiting news on a possible X-Men 3, which may still be a little bit further down the road. “Ask me this time tomorrow when I would’ve spent the day with Bryan Singer and one of the writers who is coming to the premiere. I’m told by both of them that they hope there’s going to be a third movie, they both hope to be involved and they both hope that Magneto would be a part, but they don’t quite get around to saying I’ll be playing Magneto. It could be the young Magneto they could be writing. Who knows. I think Lauren Shuler Donner has announced that there is going to be an X-Men 3 and there’s going to be a spinoff, a Wolverine spinoff, and that Hugh Jackman is contracted to do both.”

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