The Press Online
January 16, 2000

The Wizard Gandalf Flies In

WELLINGTON -- Gandalf the Wizard flew into Middle Earth this week without any fanfare or fireworks.

British actor Sir Ian McKellen, 61, arrived in Wellington over the weekend to take up one of the plum roles in Peter Jackson's $360 million movie trilogy The Lord Of The Rings.

Filming on the project, which wrapped up in Queenstown and Wanaka just before Christmas, was to resume next week in Wellington and Waikato.

Producer Barrie Osborne said Sir Ian was settling in and preparing by working with make-up artists and wardrobe fitters.

Author Robert Foster, in his book The Complete Guide To Middle Earth, described Gandalf as "a grey-cloaked, grey-haired bent old man ... (who) passed easily for a meddlesome old conjurer; (but) at times, he revealed his true majesty and power".

In the trilogy, Gandalf was the second most powerful wizard, behind Saruman -- being played by Christopher Lee -- in a group of wizards called the Istari.

Sir Ian is a veteran of both stage and screen, having starred in more than 50 films, including And The Band Played On (1993), Richard III (1995), and Gods And Monsters (1998) for which he received an Oscar nomination last year.

Knighted in 1990, Sir Ian made his name performing Shakespeare on the British stage and joins a cast that includes Liv Tyler, Sir Ian Holm, and Elijah Wood. --NZPA