If Ian McKellen Leaves 'The Hobbit,' Who Could Replace Him As Gandalf The Grey?

As we reported earlier, Sir Ian McKellen might be following former "The Hobbit" director Guillermo Del Toro on his way out of The Shire. Now, if Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that we should always prepare for the worst -- you never know when a zombie epidemic is going to break out, after all. While the loss of the once and hopefully future Gandalf isn't likely to turn the legions of "Lord of the Rings" fans into mindless, flesh-eating monstrosities, the departure of the man who defined the role of the wise old wizard might very well prove disastrous for the film's future.

But worry not. On the off chance that McKellen decides to bow out, we've come up with a few replacements who might be able pick up the staff, slip on the pointy hat and make sure that "The Hobbit" comes to pass. Hit the jump for more!

Patrick Stewart

If not Magneto, might as well get Professor X. Whether he's playing the mutant leader of the "X-Men," Captain Jean-Luc Picard or any number of roles in between, Patrick Stewart consistently knocks it out of the park with his uncanny ability to simply radiate awesomeness. The man could read the dictionary and would still captivate audiences. Having him play the great Gandalf would be a walk in the park — and then straight to the bank to deposit those box office returns.

Sean Connery

Let's face it — more Sean Connery is always a good thing. His casting as Gandalf would get double the points for not only bringing the former Bond out of retirement, but also ensuring that his final acting role won't go down in the books as "Sir Billi." (No offense!) And maybe, just maybe, Connery returning to his fantasy roots could inspire another turn as Draco in a "DragonHeart" prequel. Come on, a fan can dream!

Michael Gambon

Thanks to his turn as Albus Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" films, Michael Gambon has experience playing an insanely powerful but humble wizard with a kind heart and reassuring voice. He knows how to walk that line between unassuming and all-knowing and he definitely knows how to rock the wizard cap. And not to say that all old, bearded wizards look alike, but Dumbledore and Gandalf might as well be twins — and since neither book contradicts that theory, we'll assume they are!

Christopher Plummer

Remember how I just said Dumbledore and Gandalf look like twins? Well, their estranged cousin Doctor Parnassus deserves a vote as well. Like everyone else on this list, Christopher Plummer has a ton of experience underneath his belt and knows his way around the sci-fi and fantasy scene. There's no need to build an imaginarium to see that he could easily fill the role.

Sir Ian McKellen

Okay, seriously, this movie needs Sir Ian McKellen in it. Get him in this film. The man lived the role for three movies, each extended edition of which runs at least four hours. He is Gandalf. Call in a favor from the giant eagles. Clone him if you must. Whatever — just make it happen!

Who would you cast to replace McKellen as Gandalf? Is replacing him even an option? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section and on Twitter!

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