Starting in 1999 with his casting as Gandalf and continuing through 2003, Ian McKellan wrote a blog called The Grey Book about his experiences starring in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. If you are a fan, you’ll find the actor’s personal history of the process fascinating.
It bears repeating that, as with Richard III or James Whale or Magneto, I must discover Gandalf somewhere inside myself – and that process depends on absorbing the words of the script and its story, listening to the reactions of the director and responding to the performances of the rest of the cast. So now, still 3 months away from shooting (for me), my Gandalf doesn’t exist, not even in my mind. He will only come to life as the camera turns and discoveries are made in the very moment. Even when I am in the thick of it, in costume and make-up and speaking Tolkien’s words, I’m not sure I will be able to describe the character to you. Actors don’t describe – they inhabit.
So these Grey Book notes may be more about me than about Gandalf and may disappoint the experts who will have to be patient and wait for the finished movies. I’m sorry if 2001 seems a long way off.