Very soon "The Two Towers" will hit theaters, and just a year after that, the final chapter of "The Lord of the Rings" will follow. As the conclusion of director Peter Jackson's acclaimed adaptation of the epic trilogy draws near, it has many fans wondering: Are there any plans to bring "Rings" prequel "The Hobbit" to the big screen?
Sir Ian McKellen, better known to moviegoers as the wise wizard Gandalf, said he certainly hopes so and insisted that Jackson is the man to handle the project.
"Obviously he should have first refusal at translating the novel into a movie," the distinguished British actor wrote recently on McKellen.com, where he regularly answers fan questions about "The Lord of The Rings," "X-Men" and his other projects.
A representative for Jackson said the filmmaker does not possess the rights to "The Hobbit."
In "The Hobbit," which was, like "The Lord of the Rings," penned by J.R.R. Tolkien, Gandalf the Grey helps guide Bilbo Baggins through a series of adventures that includes the acquiring of the "ring of power" and a first meeting with the creature known as Gollum. So would McKellen be interested in reprising the Gandalf role in a fourth film?
"I should be intrigued to return to Middle-Earth," he said. "Even though it involved putting on Gandalf's nose, which is even more distinctive than my own."
"The Hobbit" has been made into a movie once before, albeit one that was animated and made for television back in 1978. McKellen maps out how it could be done this time around.
"I thought it might be possible to make a really long screen version, probably for television, with every episode of the book covered week by week in a multitude of episodes," McKellen offered.
Ian Holm played Bilbo in last year's "The Fellowship of the Ring" flick. But as for who should portray the much younger Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit," McKellen seems to think some new casting would be in order.
"Ian Holm — who was proud to look so young as well as so old as Bilbo in 'The Fellowship of the Ring' — even he might think the young Bilbo of 'The Hobbit' was unlikely casting for an actor of his age," he wrote.