Ian McKellen almost turned down Gandalf part in ‘The Hobbit’

Actor says he was initially reluctant to reprise his role from 'Lord Of The Rings'

Ian McKellen has revealed that he almost turned down his part in The Hobbit.

The actor is renowned for playing Gandalf in Peter Jackson‘s three Lord Of The Rings films, which came out between 2001 and 2003. However, he was initially reluctant to reprise the role in the director’s new trilogy based on The Hobbit.

McKellen told The Hollywood Reporter: “It was a little like going back to something that wasn’t necessarily going to be particularly challenging. Gandalf is still inside me, as it were, so the business of getting to know a new character – I was sort of going to be robbed of that.”

However, McKellen changed his mind after a friend told him that fans would be disappointed if he chose not to return. The actor added: “You felt, how many millions of people are waiting for it. They wouldn’t understand if you weren’t as keen as they were.”

New photos of McKellen playing Gandalf in The Hobbit were released yesterday (October 17), along with the first picture of Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins.

The promotional campaign for the trilogy is now picking up speed as the first film approaches. An Unexpected Journey gets its worldwide premiere in New Zealand on November 28 before opening in UK cinemas on December 14. You can watch the trailer at the end of this article.

Jackson’s second Hobbit film, The Desolation Of Smaug, will follow in December 2013, before the trilogy concludes with There And Back Again in July 2014. Alongside McKellen and Wood, the films star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and boast an ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Bret McKenzie and Orlando Bloom.