SIR Ian McKellen considered turning down his part in The Hobbit after beginning to question whether he wanted to make such a huge movie commitment at the age of 71.
The British actor confirmed this week (beg10Jan11) that he will be reprising his role as wizard Gandalf in the long-delayed Lord Of The Rings prequel, which will be split into two films.
But MCKellen reveals he thought about handing the job over to another actor so he could concentrate on theatre roles while he is still fit enough to continue working.
In a post on his official blog, he writes, "All I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given me. I'm 71 and fit: though at my age who knows what accident is 'round the next corner?' For a year or more, I have been arranging my professional commitments around the possibility of The Hobbit films starting at almost anytime... As my agent continued to negotiate with Warner Brothers, I kept wondering was Gandalf what I most wanted to do, more than a new play for instance or indeed a new part? Sequels aren't necessarily as rewarding to act in as their originals.
"Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did? Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore (in the Harry Potter franchise)?"
MCKellen eventually signed up to the movie after negotiating a number of breaks in filming which would allow him to take on other projects, adding, "My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted."