It had been rumoured that the former Bond movie star had been cast as the wizard Gandalf, one of the trilogy's lead roles. However, a spokesman for publicists Nancy Seltzer and Associates said Connery was "not ready to appear in any movies at this time". But co- producer Tim Sanders said recently that some well known actors had approached him. Yesterday he said that casting had started but nothing had been confirmed. " The ball has just begun rolling on casting," he said. "No decisions have been made." He said negotiations with interested parties would have to be completed before casting decisions could be made. There were 65 speaking parts up for grabs, as many as 15 probably going to overseas actors and the rest to New Zealand actors. More than 15,000 extras would also be needed. Casting was expected to take two or three months, and began in New Zealand this week. Actors were also being sought in Britain, the United States and Australia. The initial casting would focus on the main parts. Extras would be sought after June. A spokesman for Jackson's company WingNut Films said aspiring actors should watch the media for audition information in the next couple of months, or approach an extra's casting agency. Mr Sanders said one North Island location had been confirmed, and a half dozen South Island sites were nearing confirmation.