Q: I know most of the shots in the teaser-trailer were not post-production and some were just candid filming. The brief facial glimpse of you in make-up brings me to my question: In your complete make-up/outfitting as Gandalf, is the teaser-trailer shot what we can expect to see on the big-screen?
A: Peter Jackson, impressed by the fans' eagerness to see the teaser which was shown last March at ShoWest (the annual film marketing fair in Las Vegas), was, I think, instrumental in the unprecedented decision to share it with a wider audience. It even got me excited when I saw it downloaded on a friend's big-screen computer. I was, though, a bit surprised to see in the teaser a couple of shots of acrobats on stilts, one of the planned devices for shrinking actors to Hobbit-size. This "Big Rig" method has been abandoned as being too clumsy, in favour of others that I have revealed in the Grey Book. Otherwise it all looked very like the film as I observe it day-by-day, Gandalf's appearance included. Everyone is hugely heartened by the near-unanimous approval.
Q: I hope that Peter Jackson will have a convincing explanation for how he can, as you say, "protect the source material from commercial encroachments" and have Liv Tyler do battle with 20 Uruk-Hai (cf. her interview). We non-filmmaking Tolkienists may be entirely ignorant of scriptwriting and cinematic narrative, but we do know the original, which never at any point featured the martial prowess of Arwen Undomiel. Your assurances are less than assuring in this instance.
A: Sorry you aren't happy but I didn't write the screenplay and suggest you address your concerns to those who did! You might be encouraged by the fact that scripts often change during filming.
From: Colin Bordley firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Perhaps it's jumping the gun a bit but, assuming the movie is a big hit, does the idea that you may be forever remembered in most people's eyes as "Gandalf the Grey" worry you at all - bearing in mind all of the other work you have done?
A: I have always prided myself on being a protean actor, capable of successful disguise as I deliberately look for variety in my work. What critics or audiences think of me doesn't worry me overmuch, as long as I am still offered new challenges in the theatre as well as cinema. There are worse fates than to be permanently associated with a great literary icon, should that come about. In the meantime I am beginning to wonder what my next job will be next year, when "Lord of the Rings" is completed - certainly something of contrast. My only worry would be if prospective employers began to think of me as a one-part actor. Were that to happen, I could always direct them to the longish curriculum vitae at www.mckellen.com
Q: What is your opinion on how closely the screenwriters have held to the original "flavor" of the dialogue?
A: Almost all of Gandalf's lines (so far) have been lifted directly from the novels even though they weren't, of course, written to be spoken aloud. Any augmentation has been minimal and in keeping with the original .
From: Cooper Sherry
Q: I suspect that Peter Jackson's film will discuss such things as the Three Rings of the Elf Lords, one of which (Narya) is held by Gandalf himself. Will this ring be visible upon Gandalf's finger in the film?
A: By the end of the third film, Narya will be in evidence. The ring was made in the WETA workshops which supply all the other props. Last week I forgot to take it off at the end of the day's work. which gave the props department a sleepless night.
Q: Has Peter Jackson mentioned doing a commentary for when The Lord of the Rings is released on DVD? Also is there a documentary being made, about the making of the film?
A: I have noticed a video camera operator in constant attendance on set so guess a documentary is likely. Otherwise security rules. For instance all private films taken by actors and crew are developed by a local shop that has signed agreements never to leak copies to the media.
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