Speaking to The Independent for part of an extensive oral history ofThe Fellowship of the Ring, to mark the film’s 20th anniversary, McKellen and New Line Cinema executive Mark Ordesky reflected on his casting.
“They only wanted me because the established stars said no,” claimed McKellen. “They wanted Tony Hopkins and Sean Connery.”
“Ian’s being self-deprecating,” said Ordesky in response. “We desperately wanted him.”
He explained: “We did make an offer to Connery but he said no. We never got an answer until years later, but apparently he read the material and just didn’t get it.”
McKellen also recalled how his role as Magneto in the live-action X-Men film nearly cost him a chance at Gandalf due to scheduling conflicts.
He described playing the wizard as “the job of a lifetime”.
As well as McKellen and Ordesky, the retrospective also features interviews with Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Dominic Monaghan, John Rhys-Davies and Peter Jackson’s manager Ken Kamins.
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