PLUME: And, again, it was the script that brought you to it?
MCKELLEN: I think it was meeting Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, his partner. They have an air of hippie-dom about them, but what I mistook for being hippies is, in fact, that they are New Zealanders. They`re modest people… They`re passionate… They`re not showy people… Their egos are nicely in place. They`re not related to the rat race at all. They know they live in the most beautiful country in the world, and they have no ambitions to leave it, and they`re very happy to have invented a structure there whereby they can make – and hopefully pull off – this amazing project. When you`re there, you feel there`s nothing much happening in the whole world but his film, so that`s rather alluring. If you`re making a movie in Hollywood or London, well, the Queen lives in London and Spielberg lives in Hollywood – there are other things going on. But in New Zealand, it`s just us, really. You sense that, "Hmm… This is something really important."
PLUME: And you`ve gone from portraying one iconic pop-culture character, in Magneto, to another, in Gandalf…
MCKELLEN: In a year`s time or so, my Magneto doll will be able to zap my Gandalf doll, and I don`t know who`s going to win.
PLUME: And who would you prefer to win?
MCKELLEN: Oh no, no… I don`t take sides with my characters.
PLUME: Do you enjoy portraying Gandalf? You get to portray many different shades of the character…
MCKELLEN: There`s Gandalf the Gray and there`s Gandalf the White, yes. I`ve nearly finished with the Gray now. We`ve nearly finished the first film, but done lots in the other two, really. I think Gandalf the Gray is my favorite. He`s more human than Gandalf the White… he enjoys a smoke and the company of the Hobbits and lets his hair down a bit, and relaxes and makes jokes.
PLUME: With Gandalf the White being more straight-laced…
MCKELLEN: Well, with Gandalf the White, he`s really up against it and the stakes are higher. He`s come back and he really has to complete the job, so he hasn`t much time for relaxing and fooling around – he`s got to get on with the job.
PLUME: Speaking of getting on with the job, as we wrap this up, what is in your future? Do you have any projects locked down yet?
MCKELLEN: No. It`ll probably be a play, because I want to do a play soon. I was thinking the other day, "Hmmmm…What would it be fun to be doing when Lord of the Rings opens in Christmas 2001?" I thought the really cheeky thing would be to be doing a musical on Broadway, but I don`t see one in the offing. There are a couple of films that are there, but I`d be surprised if I didn`t do a play next year sometime.
PLUME: Is that generally your way of getting a change of pace and unwinding after a film?
MCKELLEN: Not necessarily… I went straight from X-Men to doing Lord of the Rings, but I will have been doing film non-stop for 18 months. I miss the theater. I don`t pine for it, but every so often I think I`m going to need to do it again. Again, the circumstances would have to be right, and it would have to be a play I really want to do and a director I really want to work with and I have to make sure the theater is the right size… All those sorts of things. If they all come together, I think that`s the thing I`ll be most likely to be doing.
you will find the complete interview here .