The acclaimed McKellen — the only member of the Lord of the Rings cast to be nominated for an Oscar — told The Hollywood Reporter that his biggest concern was not being able to discover a new character as an actor. He explained, “It was a little like going back to something that wasn’t necessarily going to be particularly challenging. Gandalf is still inside me, as it were, so the business of getting to know a new character — I was sort of going to be robbed of that.” Another drawback were the lengthy hours of shooting the film series, which actually won’t finish shooting until June 2013 despite the first film being released in December.
Ultimately, McKellen thought of the consequences of not starring in the film after talking it over with a friend. He said, “You felt, how many millions of people are waiting for it? They wouldn’t understand if you weren’t as keen as they were.”
However, don’t let McKellen’s doubts get to you: he admits that playing Gandalf the Grey (as he did in the first Lord of the Rings movie) is a lot more fun than playing Gandalf the White (as he did in the second and third films), and that fun is hard to hide when shooting. He reveals that while on set, “I was joking around and one of the other actors said, ‘Stop it, Ian,’ and he was quite right.” But why play an all-powerful wizard if you can’t have a little fun, right?