The Lord of the Rings filming production was a monolithic undertaking. Director Peter Jackson began filming at the end of 1999 and continued all the way through to pick-up scenes in 2003. Before anything started, however, the franchise almost lost its favourite actor for Gandalf.
Gandalf was played by the legendary Sir Ian McKellen.
The iconic wizard was present through all three films, becoming the heart and guidance of the series.
Unfortunately, his involvement in the first-ever X-Men film as Magneto almost ended his chances of playing the sorcerer also known as Mithrandir.
Sir Ian said during a 2014 roundtable: “Before Peter Jackson asked me to play Gandalf, Bryan Singer asked me to play Magneto. That came first.” (Via IGN)
READ MORE: Lord of the Rings: Pivotal Frodo scene was ‘ruined’ by Samwise star
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Sir Ian continued: “I had to call Peter up and say: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t play Gandalf because my initial commitment has changed its dates.'”
Thankfully, he revealed, Bryan was the one who budged.
He said: “It’s only because Bryan Singer is a gentleman and talked to Peter Jackson and they agreed quite unofficially, nothing in writing, that Singer would get me out of X-Men in time to do Fellowship of the Ring that I was able to do both parts.”
He laughed: “It’s just a fluke and it tickles me, really.”
Bob Shaye, the executive producer of the Lord of the Rings franchise also recalled the almost disastrous event.
The New Line Cinema owner explained he ran into Sir Ian at dinner, before recalling: “I was sorry to hear he was busy because we had really wanted him.”
Sir Ian eventually turned down Mission: Impossible because he “was not allowed to see the script”.
He later recalled: “Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible was put off, put off, put off.
“If I had decided to do that, I wouldn’t have been in X-Men and I wouldn’t have been in Lord of the Rings. It’s all about luck – being there at the right time and ready for it.”
This wasn’t the only disaster that befell the Lord of the Rings series.
Merry and Pippin actors Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd recalled the final scene in the series, the Grey Havens, was forced to be shot three times.
Speaking on their podcast, Friendship Onion, Billy said: “For those of you who don’t know why we did it three times… Sean Astin [who plays Samwise] was wearing the wrong costume.
“After lunch, he took off his vest to eat lunch. When he came back he forgot to put the vest on, so for continuity, it was ruined.”
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is available to watch on NOW.
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