Can Gandalf the Grey handle his smoke and drink? While chatting with Sir Ian McKellen about his next appearance in The Hobbit the actor revealed what happened when Peter Jackson suggested Gandalf get drunk. It didn't go Jackson's way.
Is this a more mischievous Gandalf?
Ian McKellen: Well Peter Jackson said to me one day when we were in Hobbiton and all the dwarves were drinking that Gandalf should have a bit too many, too much to drink and get a bit tipsy. Well, I put him in his place there. Gandalf does not get drunk. He can handle his drink, and his smoking. Mischievous? There's a lighter tone to this book The Hobbit, on which the films are based. It's the kind of book that a parent would tell a kid at bedtime. It's an adventure story. Lord of the Rings was about saving the world, big time, big duties. Yes, I think we'll all feel a bit more light hearted than Lord to the Rings.
In the Lord of the Rings films there's a beautiful dichotomy between Gandalf the all powerful, and Gandalf the vulnerable. When you were talking to Peter Jackson where did you want to draw the line between the two Gandalfs for this movie?
Well, this is not Gandalf the White and Peter Jackson and I... the White was not our favorite. We stuck with him through two movies, but we're very glad to get back to the long-bearded, straggle-bearded Gandalf the Grey. Who sleeps under hedge rows, who likes drinking down in Hobbiton and having a smoke, and telling a joke and having some fun. It's that sort of Gandalf. However, he does have big responsibilities beyond the adventure story of the dwarves which the Hobbit joins in on. You're right the balance will happen in each scene, but I suspect there's going to be a lighter tone throughout.
How does the super high res. 48 frames per second change things for an actor?
Not at all, I haven't seen it. And I'm as excited as everybody else. But what I have seen is 3D. I can remember the three dimensional movies in the 50s and 60s which were all about things coming out. The 3D in this movie is all about bringing the audience in. You go into Middle Earth. It's unbelievable. To see that at  frames I suppose is going to be more wonderful. I just haven't seen it yet.
I heard where Gandalf has his own separate arc in this movie, where did Peter draw to make that story?
Ian McKellen: You'd have to ask him, frankly I know the books. I don't know everything that Tolkien's written. I don't know the appendices, the jottings, the notes. I just get the scripts and there we are. I take it on trust.