by Nick Madigan
Ian McKellen, flooded with honors for his work in last year’s “Gods and Monsters,” will play Gandalf in New Line Cinema’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.”
At the same time, his fellow countryman Ian Holm (“The Sweet Hereafter”) is in talks for the role of Bilbo.
First installment of the J.R.R. Tolkein classic franchise, “Part One: The Fellowship of the Rings,” is to be directed by Peter Jackson and goes into production in October, with principal photography expected to last more than a year.
McKellen, who will join the production in New Zealand as soon as he wraps Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” for Fox, has been much in demand since “Monsters,” which won him prizes from the National Board of Review, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival.
McKellen’s other credits include “Apt Pupil” (1998), “Richard III” (1995), “Restoration” (1995), “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993) and “Scandal” (1989). He won a Golden Globe for the TV movie “Rasputin” (1996). He’s repped by Chris Andrews at ICM.
Holm, who has 83 film and television credits, was in “eXistenZ” earlier this year, as well as “A Life Less Ordinary” (1997), “The Madness of King George” (1995), “Night Falls on Manhattan” (1997), and “The Fifth Element” (1997).
He was nominated for a best-supporting actor Oscar for “Chariots of Fire” (1982), and won a BAFTA award for “The Bofors Gun” (1968). Holm also won a Genie Award for “Hereafter” (1997).
New Line is not confirming castings publicly, saying, “When casting of principals has concluded, New Line, along with the filmmakers, will unveil the entire ensemble.”
The three “Rings” films — which could cost a total of at least $130 million — will be shot consecutively, a project New Line describes as “an unprecedented production of size and scope.”