McKellen to reprise Gandalf role in "Hobbit"

Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:06am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Ian McKellen will reprise the role of the wizard Gandalf in the upcoming movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," he told a film magazine.

The 68-year-old star played the part in the hugely successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has been named to direct two films based on "The Hobbit."

"Yes, it's true," McKellen told Empire magazine.

"I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf."

Del Toro, whose credits include "Pan's Labyrinth," will move to New Zealand for the next four years to work on both "Hobbit" films with executive producer Jackson, according to New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

The studios have said that filming will begin in 2009, with tentative release dates set of 2010 for the first film and 2011 for the sequel.

(Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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<p>Ian McKellen pauses during an interview with Reuters in Singapore July 18, 2007. REUTERS/David Yeo</p>