If you’re watching Lord of the Rings with a newbie, look forward to the scene where Viggo Mortensen, the actor who plays Aragorn, knocks on a helmet screaming to tell the anecdote behind that scene. then you are reading the correct article. We invite you to discover 15 facts about Gandalf and Ian McKellen that not many people know and that you can talk about later with many newbies (and even professionals). Let’s go straight to Middle-earth.
# 1 David Bowie was seen as the role of Gandalf
For many of us, it is absolutely unthinkable to imagine any actor other than Ian McKellen playing the role of Gandalf. And yet! Amy Hubbard, casting director for Lord of the Rings, announced that director Peter Jackson believes Bowie could join the crew as Gandalf. Bowie didn’t have much availability at the time, however, and this shoot required a significant investment of time. In addition to Bowie, other actors such as Sean Connery, Tom Baker, Christopher Plummer and Patrick Stewart were in the running to play the role of Gandalf. Well done Ian McKellen!
# 2 Ian McKellen stole some of the set pieces
Ian McKellen, a little-known anecdote, had a brief period as a kleptomaniac. While working on the set of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, McKellen reportedly took home some memorabilia for his personal collection. During a discussion on Reddit, as reported in the Daily Mail, McKellen shared some of his most memorable experiences filming The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy. So he declared:
I think my favorite setting that I didn’t play in was the golden hideout where the dragon was hiding. Hundreds of thousands of specially made gold coins. And if you don’t tell anyone I can tell you I have some of these parts.
A collector, this Gandalf!
# 3 Gandalf is known as Maiar named Olórin
Gandalf’s real name is Olórin and he is said to be “the wisest of the Maiar” in La Valaquenta. In Tolkien’s work, the Maiar are part of the Ainur, the deities from the spirit of Ilúvatar, the creator god. However, they are second-rate spirits who serve the higher spirits, the Valar. When the Valar reunite to send envoys to Middle-earth to support the fight against Sauron, Olórin of Manwë is chosen to be part of the expedition.
# 4 Gandalf’s character was inspired by Old Norse mythology
JRR Tolkien drew inspiration from many Norse mythologies and certain English legends, although he sometimes defended himself against them. Several references to Scandinavian myths can therefore be found by examining the scriptures relating to Middle-earth. The Völsunga Saga (a Nordic saga of Icelandic origin), for example, played a certain role in the conception of his work, as this 13th-century story tells the adventures of two great families: those of the dwarf Nibelungs and descendants of the god Odin. The two rival gangs compete for possession of the dwarf Andvari: a gold ring. The dwarf, whose ring is stolen, promises that any wearer of the coming ring will be cursed. It should also not be forgotten that Gandalf’s outfit is directly related to Odin the Wanderer (Odin Ganglari). The Norse deity Odin can actually choose to appear in various forms, and one of them is the “Wanderer”: a bearded old man, equipped with a long staff and a large hat.
# 5 Ian McKellen didn’t read the books before accepting the role
With his more than convincing performance as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films, one might assume that Ian McKellen knew Tolkien’s works well before he took on the role. However, the latter had not read the original novels when he accepted the post. The actor actually stated:
I hadn’t read the books when asked to. I just accepted the job based on the script.
Christopher Lee, who plays the role of Saruman, was known for reading the entire work of JRR Tolkien at least once a year.
# 6 Tom Cruise brought luck to Ian MCKELLEN
Ian McKellen is obviously not only known for his role as Gandalf. The actor has played a variety of roles throughout his career, including that of Magneto in the X-Men film adaptations. McKellen has admitted in the past that he could have played with Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II, but declined the role. His agent would have told him, “You can’t say no to a job at Tom Cruise!” But Ian Mckellen was determined to answer negatively, not convinced of the scenario. Just a day later, director Peter Jackson reached out to him to admit he was considering giving him the role of Gandalf but remained concerned about the timing between Lord of the Rings and the X-Men. Bryan Singer, the director of X-Men, understood the issues and assured Ian Mckellen that there would be no planning conflicts. So saying no to Tom Cruise can sometimes pay off!
# 7 The name “Gandalf” means “Stabelfe”
As we have already seen, Gandalf is initially known by the name Olórin. When Olórin arrived in Middle-earth, the men called him “Gandalf”. The name is derived from a dialect of the northern region of Middle-earth. The name “Gandalf” roughly means “Elf with a stick” and obviously refers to the stick he regularly carries. The dwarves called Gandalf “Tharkûn”, which means “man with a stick”. The people of Gondor and the elves call him “Mithrandir”, which means “gray pilgrim” or “wandering gray”.
# 8 Gandalf lived in Middle-earth over two thousand years
During the events of The Hobbit and the Companions of the Ring, Gandalf is initially referred to as Gandalf the Gray, but returns as Gandalf the White in the two towers. As mentioned earlier, he was sent to help the people of Middle-earth fight Sauron. In Middle-earth his name was Gandalf and for years he got to know the different cultures he came across. After destroying the One Ring, Gandalf separates from the four hobbits and declares that he “wants to have a long conversation with Bombadil”. He describes himself as “a stone that is doomed to roll” and Bombadil as a “moss picker” in reference to the saying “Rolling stone does not collect moss”. In total, Gandalf is said to have spent over two thousand years in Middle-earth before crossing the sea to the immortal lands.
# 9 Gandalf also owns an elven sword
We sometimes imagine Gandalf using only one weapon, namely his precious staff. However, the wizard is also known to wield a formidable blade called the Glamdring. Glamdring is a sword that belonged to the king of Gondolin Turgon and then Gandalf. Like Dard, it glows blue when the orcs approach. In the third age, the mage uses Glamdring to kill the last Balrog of Morgoth. This weapon is also Orcrist’s sister sword, which Gandalf found in a troll camp while participating in the Thorin Oakblade expedition.
# 10 Ian McKellen based his performance on Tolkien
In an interview with the Huffington Post, director Peter Jackson stated that Ian McKellen’s performance as Gandalf was heavily inspired by JRR Tolkien himself. Jackson stated that he and McKellen meet regularly to discuss Gandalf’s character. In the interview in question, Jackson states:
We listened to audio recordings from Tolkien and read clips from Lord of the Rings. We saw interviews with him for the BBC and Ian started acting based on a Tolkien imitation. He literally based Gandalf on Tolkien. It sounds the same, it uses the same language patterns (…) Tolkien would recognize himself in Ian’s performance.
# 11 Ian McKellen wore a prosthetic nose
In the expanded edition of The Fellowship of The Ring DVD, it is revealed that Ian McKellen wore a prosthetic nose for his role as Gandalf the Gray. McKellen’s real nose was a perfect fit, but when the makeup team added his beard and fake hair, his real nose looked tiny in comparison. To make up for this, McKellen was asked to wear a prosthetic nose. Anecdotally, the cast makeup team used the same materials for McKellen’s nose as they used for the pointy elf ears. Christopher Lee also had to wear a prosthetic nose on set for his role as Saruman.
# 12 Ian Mckellen almost fell in love with the Hobbit’s set
After McKellen agreed to return to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit, he almost ended his career. Indeed, McKellen has particularly suffered from the constant presence of green backgrounds while working with director Peter Jackson. The actor reveals in the expanded edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:
I felt so miserable … And I thought, maybe now is the time to stop filming altogether if I can’t handle these difficulties? It was so painful, disgusting, and difficult that I thought, “I don’t want to do this movie if I have to achieve it.”
# 13 Your powers include smoke generation, light projection, telekinesis, and telepathy
In The Lord of the Rings books, Gandalf was known to have “fire, smoke and light” -related skills in The Shire (as seen at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring). ). As Maia, Gandalf is similar to an angelic character and therefore possesses different kinds of powers. When he arrived in Middle-earth, he took the form of a man and was capable of many enchantments. It should also be remembered that Gandalf spent entire years studying languages and accumulating knowledge, so his wisdom should not be underestimated either. Olórin is also able to decipher runes, which is a useful skill especially in the company of Thorin Oakenshield.
# 14 Ian McKellen has reruns his role as Gandalf for charity at times
Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings officially ended with the release of Return of the King in December 2003. That did not prevent Ian McKellen in the following years from his role as Gandalf for The Hobbit trilogy, but also for certain charitable causes . For example, the actor held nine performances at the Park Theater in London from July 3-9, 2017 in an effort to raise enough money to keep the theater open. The show was called “Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You”.