September 12, 2000
Spellbound by Southern Wizard's Charm
"I was an Ian, too, at one stage," the Wizard said, "but I gave it up."
The long-time orator was a fan of J R R Tolkien's epic tale and looked forward enormously to seeing the three movies of the story now being filmed around New Zealand.
Standing outside the Cathedral in a cold drizzle, the conversation between the Wizard and the star was rather lopsided and ranged far and wide.
Their talk touched on honour, acting, gimmickry, the subjectivity of reality, humour and postmodernism, wizards as sex objects ("hence your hat perhaps," Sir Ian said), Anglo-Saxon mythology and the wizard Merlin, shamen and priests, agriculture and emasculation, Victorian values, the monarchy, and disappearing in puffs of smoke.
Sir Ian was enjoying a rare day off. He had been at work in Queenstown. On Tuesday he is in Wellington, shooting some studio-based segments and, from Wednesday, he and his trailer "home away from home" will be based at Methven for two weeks.
Work was going "remarkably well it seems" on New Zealand director Peter Jackson's $360 million movie trilogy, Sir Ian said.
"I'm very impressed," he said. "Producing a story in three parts over 16 months, with just a two-week break. That's an awful lot of time for things to go wrong, but nothing seems to be."
By the time shooting ends Sir Ian will have lived in New Zealand for almost a year.