‘The Hobbit’ Director Guillermo Del Toro Makes Ian McKellen ‘Shiver’

It’s been over a decade since Ian McKellen donned Gandalf’s robes on the set of the first film in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Now 10 years later, the British actor is itching to revisit Middle Earth. He recently read the script for the first of “The Hobbit” films, but with no start date for production, the guy is getting a little antsy.

“Gandalf is a fantastic part and I long to do it,” McKellen told MTV News, adding that both he and “LOTR” director Peter Jackson prefer the earlier Gandalf the Grey version to his later, post-resurrection incarnation. “He was more humane somehow. He was the guy who liked to hang out with the hobbits and drink too much and smoke too much.”

What he didn’t always prefer were the 20+ takes Jackson often required on set to get a scene exactly as he wanted. Until McKellen chatted with us, he was thinking that perhaps “Hobbit” director Guillermo del Toro might spare his actors such lengthy repetition.

“A slight shiver went through me just then,” McKellen said with a smile, “because I thought perhaps [Guillermo] might be a little quicker than Peter, but maybe he won’t be. He’s a bit of a perfectionist. But this script plays very much to his strengths and I can see where he’s put his mark already on the script.”

Despite a new guy sitting in the director’s chair, McKellen promised a resemblance between “LOTR” and “Hobbit” in both look and feel. “Peter Jackson is still a hands-on producer,” he said. “Guillermo del Toro comes in not as a wild card but very much respecting it all.”

That much was clear to McKellen after he read the script. He wasn’t expecting to get any pages, but a package suddenly arrived at his door. “About three weeks ago, I was sitting in London and a courier arrived from New Zealand, which is the other side of the world, bearing the script of ’The Hobbit,'” he said. “It was tied around with so much Scotch tape that even with two pairs of scissors, I only got into it half an hour later.”

“The script had my name on every single page and a warning that each page was encrypted, so if it appeared on the Internet, it could be traced back to me,” he continued. “And I’m not to discuss it with you, or any colleague, or friend, or family member or pet. I may not write in the script, I may not remove it from its plastic folder, and when it is taken from me by the courier, it will be shredded under supervision!”