Sir Ian McKellen is back in New Zealand to shoot the final scenes of the next Hobbit instalment, and took time out of his filming schedule to visit Christchurch's Isaac Theatre Royal.
The actor, who plays Gandalf, has fundraised more than $300,000 for the repair of the heritage theatre and returned to catch up with its progress.
Sir Ian first performed at the Isaac Theatre Royal in 2007 in the play Waiting for Godot.
"This was one of the places that we played, and although I'd been to Christchurch, I'd never done any theatre," says Sir Ian. "But I loved it. And so the shock when it was so badly damaged was very upsetting."
After the February earthquake, and after desperate efforts to save the theatre, it was earmarked for demolition. But Sir Ian had other ideas.
"There's something about the spirit of this theatre. It won't die, you know."
Last year, he raised more than $350,000 to rebuild the century-old theatre by touring a one-man show across New Zealand.
In recognition of his contribution, one of the theatre's boxes will be named the Ian McKellen Royal Suite.
"Yes, it'll be nice to always be connected now in that way," he says.
Today is a day off for Sir Ian from filming the second instalment of The Hobbit.
"Peter Jackson did say to me the other day that this film, number two Hobbit, was going to be the best of all the six. "We'll see if he's right about that. But he's working hard and everyone's back and in good spirits."
Sir Ian hopes to be back in Christchurch for the theatre's grand opening early next year, ahead of the second release of The Hobbit in December.
source: newshub archive