Ian McKellen reveals behind-the-scenes secrets from The Lord of The Rings

Sir Ian's tweet has been shared thousands of times by fans.
Sir Ian's tweet has been shared thousands of times by fans. Photo credit: New Line Cinema.

Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen has invited fans to reminisce with him about the making of the epic trilogy and his experience leading up to and playing Gandalf the Grey/White. 

"20 years ago, I arrived New Zealand to begin filming The Lord of the Rings," Sir Ian said in a tweet.

"I joined the cast on January 10, 2000. During that time, I kept a journal, which today would be called a blog. Perhaps you'll enjoy reading about those heady times."

The journal began in August 1999, when Sir Ian was first cast as the famous wizard. 

His entries start at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, with a nervous Sir Ian eager to capture the essence of the famous character Gandalf. 

"I am aware of the high expectations of Tolkien's fans - like myself. But, never having imagined that I would ever play any sort of wizard, I am ill-prepared," he wrote. 

"I recognise the responsibility of course. It's not as if LOTR were a play that could be revived over and over, each new cast adding to the discoveries that their predecessors have made. The Jackson trilogy will be unique."

He went on to say the "the whole venture across three movies and across the magical landscape of New Zealand, is as invigorating as the opportunity to embody a legend".

Sir Ian added that if it weren't for Sir Peter Jackson directing the movie and his "strong vision of all those precise, quirky, majestic locations", he would have not looked forward to a full year away from his home.

In some entries, he writes about his enjoyable experience in New Zealand. 

"What a congenial country New Zealand is for visitors from what used to be called 'the home country'. So far from home but the language is the same and you can buy Marmite and Cadbury's chocolate."

He also wrote about New Zealand's landscape, which would go to feature heavily in the trilogy.

"New Zealand would amaze and enrapture anyone who responds to the wild landscapes of Middle-earth. In New Zealand there really is a natural untouched wilderness and it is overwhelmingly spectacular and moving.

"I feel very much at home."

The journal also contains many details about the set, costumes, Sir Ian's enjoyable experience with the director, riding his noble steed Shadowfax and the cast. 

In one entry Sir Ian writes, "Christopher Lee proves that a distinctive voice is an asset in the movies. He loves stories about actors and I amused him last week... I like making Saruman laugh."

Sir Ian's tweet has been shared thousands of times by fans - so many, his website has been difficult to access this weekend.

Read the journal entries here.