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McKellen keen to be Gandalf again

15 October 07 09:03 GMT

Sir Ian McKellen has said he would be "very pleased" to reprise his role as wizard Gandalf in the planned film of JRR Tolkien's novel The Hobbit.

"If I am still functioning and working well, it is very likely I would be asked to do it," he told Reuters.

Sir Ian played the role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, landing an Oscar nomination in the process.

Due to a legal dispute with film studio New Line, however, Peter Jackson will not be back as director for The Hobbit.

"When Peter announced he had withdrawn from The Hobbit, he sent me an email saying: 'Because I am not going to do it, it doesn't mean you have to do the same,'" McKellen is quoted as saying.

"'Of course, you must play Gandalf whether I direct or not.'"

"I am glad to read that it is looking more and more likely," the 68-year-old continued.

Fantasy prequel

"I would be disappointed if they didn't want to have the original Gandalf."

The Hobbit, which Tolkien wrote before the Rings books, tells how Bilbo Baggins finds a supernatural ring - which is passed on to his nephew, Frodo, in Lord of the Rings.

Jackson has been ruled out of directing the film adaptation due to a dispute about income from the first Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring.

It is not yet known who will take his place or when filming will commence.

Sir Ian is currently in Los Angeles playing the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear.

The veteran actor said playing the part was extremely taxing "spiritually and emotionally and mentally".

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