Actor Ian McKellen recently appeared to confirm that he will not appear as Gandalf in the upcoming Lord of the Rings show being produced by Amazon Studios while also dunking on ScreenRant.
McKellen responded to a ScreenRant article headlined How Gandalf Can Appear In Amazon’s Lord of the Rings (But Not Ian McKellen).
He tweeted, “I think this would be the most upsetting headline I’d ever read, if I weren’t gainfully employed elsewhere.”
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As to what McKellen is currently doing as his gainful employment, he’s performing in Hamlet and starring as the character at the Theatre Royal Windsor.
The Theatre Royal Windsor notes that this version of Hamlet is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s original play. They state, “Ian McKellen stars as Hamlet, 50 years after first taking on the role in this reimagined age, colour and gender-blind production of Shakespeare’s unrelenting tale of madness, revenge and death.”
Not only is he playing Hamlet in a reimagined version of Hamlet, but he also stars as Firs in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, which is also on stage at the Theatre Royal Windsor.
The official description reads, “Ranevskya returns following a five-year absence to discover her estate, including her beloved cherry orchard, are to be auctioned off to pay debts accrued by the family in Chekhov’s theatrical masterpiece. Francesca Annis stars as Ranevskya, Ian McKellen as Firs and Jenny Seagrove as Gaev.
McKellen notes on Twitter that both stage performances are consistently being performed in front of “packed houses.”
He tweeted, “As we play to packed houses in provincial Windsor with ‘Hamlet’ & ‘The Cherry Orchard’, I’m very glad Broadway is catching up!”
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As for the claim that Gandalf could appear in Lord of the Rings, it doesn’t seem possible given Amazon’s show is set to take place in the Second Age.
The official description from Amazon clearly states, “Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history.”
Gandalf and the Istari or Wizards did not arrive in Middle-earth until the Third Age.
In Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings in The Tale of Years of the Third Age it states, “When maybe a thousand years had passed, and the first shadow had fallen on Greenwood the Great, the Istari or Wizards appeared in Middle-earth. It was afterwards said that they came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves and Men by force or fear.”
It continues, “They came therefore in the shape of Men, though they were never young and aged only slowly, and they had many powers of mind and hand. They revealed their true name to few, but used such names as were given to them.”
“The two highest of this order (of whom it is said there were five) were called by the Eldar Curunír, ‘the Man of Skill’, and Mithrandir, ‘the Grey Pilgrim’, but by Men in the North Saruman and Gandalf. Curunír journeyed often into the East, but dwelt at last in Isengard. Mithrandir was closest in friendship with the Eldar, and wandered mostly in the West, and never made for himself any lasting abode,” it concludes.
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Now, Gandalf was once a being known as Olórin as revealed in the Silmarillion. He was described as the “wisest of the Maiar” and “dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience.”
The Silmarillion further adds, “for though he loved the Elves, he walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them, and they did not know whence came the fair visions or the promptings of wisdom that he put into their hearts. In later days he was the friend of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and took pity on their sorrows; and those who listened to him awoke from despair and put away the imaginations of darkness.”
Olórin would eventually be chosen to become one of the Istari, who are described in the Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth as beings that “belonged solely to the Third Age and then departed.”
Not only does the Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth detail the Istari only belong to the Third Age, but it also reveals that when a Maiar becomes Istari their memories of the Blessed Realm are like “a vision afar off.”
The book states, “It is said indeed that being embodied the Istari had needs to learn much anew by slow experience, and though they knew whence they came the memory of Blessed Realm was to them a vision afar off, for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they yearned exceedingly. Thus by enduring of free will the pangs of exile and the deceits of Sauron they might redress the evils of that time.”
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So, clearly Gandalf will not appear in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings if the show does indeed remain in the Second Age. However, it’s possible that Olórin could appear disguised as an elf or in an unseen form as the Silmarillion notes.
What do you make of Ian McKellen’s rebuke of ScreenRant and his confirmation that he will not be appearing as Gandalf in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series?