ian-mckellen-gandalf

You knew news like this had to be coming. It is not difficult to believe that there is something like an ocean of good will between Peter Jackson and Sir Ian McKellen, especially when it comes to all things Middle Earth. Sir McKellen has been at the forefront of the casting and scheduling rumors for The Hobbit, and after his standard-setting work as the wizard Gandalf, there’s little question that he is a core element of the cast for the Lord of the Rings lead-in story in the film.

But no matter how much he’s game to reprise his wizarding ways for producer and possible director Peter Jackson, Sir McKellen has other projects to pursue. Now, finally, he sounds as if he’s nearing the endpoint of patience.

Speaking to Good Morning on TVNewZealand, the actor talks about how he’s working with a stage production of Waiting for Godot, which he is bringing to New Zealand for a short stint. Asked about The Hobbit, at first he shies away from any real news, teasing only an upcoming announcement:

I’ve no news to give you, except that an announcement is imminent, and what it will be I genuinely don’t know. It’ll either be that we’re going ahead, or that we’re not.

Asked if the delay for the film might specifically affect his own involvement, Sir McKellen says,

Well, I’m not under contract. And my time is running out. I’m enjoying working in the theatre and, frankly, I would like to race after doing Waiting for Godot and get on with doing another play, but we’ll have to see. I don’t want to give the producers the impression that I’m sitting waiting.

OK, a Godot pun there, but still: not too difficult to take away the idea that he’d like to do the film, but isn’t going to be on the hook forever. We know that MGM’s financial troubles are hampering the production, and that things need to be sorted out (whether via restructuring and recapitalization for the studio, or a sale of The Hobbit to Warner Bros., or something else) but if it doesn’t happen soon — and we don’t know what ‘soon’ represents — the production could lose a key cast member. I can actually see The Hobbit going forward with any number of possible directors, but without Ian McKellen? That would possibly be a mortal blow.

Peter Jackson has alluded to possibilities like this in recent statements, when he explained that continued production delays could start costing the film some of its people.

[via TheOneRing]

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