Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he almost turned down returning as Gandalf for Peter Jackson's forthcoming 'The Hobbit' films.
But it was the potential for disappointing fans of his role in the director's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy that eventually forced his hand.
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“It was a little like going back to something that wasn’t necessarily going to be particularly challenging,” the 73-year-old told the Hollywood Reporter.
“Gandalf is still inside me, as it were, so the business of getting to know a new character - I was sort of going to be robbed of that.”
However, the 73-year-old knight of the realm eventually came round to the idea, but not until leaving it to the last minute to sign up.
“You felt, how many millions of people are waiting for it? They wouldn’t understand if you weren’t as keen as they were,” he added.
The first installment, 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' arrives on December 14, with the follow-up 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' released on December 13, 2013, and the final film 'The Hobbit: There and Back Again' due on July 18, 2014.