Reports over Rings wizard role rejected
REPORTS that British actor Sir Ian McKellen had won the role of Gandalf the Wizard in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy were rejected yesterday by producer Tim Sanders.
Negotiations had not been completed for big roles, and the New Zealand-based film-makers would not comment on who was involved, Sanders said.
New Line Cinema, the trilogy's backer, was reported yesterday as having announced the Gandalf casting in the United States. Another British actor, Ian Holm, was said to be in talks to play Bilbo Baggins.
Sir Ian has starred in more than 50 films, including Gods and Monsters, for which he received an Oscar nomination this year. Holm was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for Chariots of Fire.
American actors Elijah Wood and Sean Astin have already been confirmed as hobbits Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee for Jackson's $360 million series.
Sanders said the casting process had been completed in New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the United States. It had now moved to "deal-making" and final announcements would be made in the next few weeks.
About 250 people were already working on production for the series. This would increase to 500 by the time shooting began in October. There was a database of thousands of extras, some of whom were being trained in sword use for fight scenes.
A schedule had been decided for 15 months of filming, and construction was under way at some of the many locations in the North and South Islands.