Legendary actor and notorious rascal Ian McKellen stole a piece of The Lord of the Rings, and he is hanging on to it no matter what.
The early 2000s gave cinemagoers one of the most groundbreaking trilogies in film history with The Lord of the Rings. Oscar-winning, box-office booming and culturally defining to an extent that fans have since been able to return to Middle-Earth with the Hobbit trilogy and now an upcoming series for Amazon Prime. The Middle-Earth saga proved just as influential to fans as it did to the actors involved, as demonstrated by Sir Ian McKellen, who according to The Digital Fix, valued the experience of filming so highly that he had to steal a souvenir.
Sir Ian McKellen of course famously played Gandalf, to much critical and fan acclaim, featuring in both the beloved LOTR trilogy and the divisive Hobbit trilogy respectively. The legendary actor happened to spill the beans on which souvenirs he pinched via Reddit when discussing his favourite sets and props.
I think my favourite set, that I didn’t act in, was the golden [lair], where the dragon was hiding. Hundreds of thousands of golden coins, specially made.
Sir Ian McKellen’s love of the set led him to spill the beans on some of the props he pinched; “I can tell you that I have some of those coins-“Along with the [front] door key to Bag End, which I know Peter Jackson is looking for, but will never find.”
Sir Ian McKellen will be hoping that Peter Jackosn doesn’t keep a keen eye on Reddit or Gandalf may be in some trouble with the mind behind the magic that is LOTR. However, even if Jackson is now aware of McKellen’s thievery, it would be highly unlikely for him to cross his beloved star and demand a return of the item, given how much he brought to the role of Gandalf. It’s difficult seeing anyone other than Sir Ian McKellen in the iconic role, but, things could have turned out differently. In an interview with the Independent, both McKellen and New Line Cinema executive Mark Ordesky spoke of other actors who may have been involved in the role; “They wanted Tony Hopkins and Sean Connery,” said McKellen. Ordesky went on to explain that the Lord of the Rings production team did indeed approach Sean Connery for the role; “We did make an offer to Connery but he said no. We never got an answer until years later, but apparently he read the material and just didn’t get it.”
What might have been if Sean Connery had taken the offer of Gandalf, would the series have been as successful? Perhaps, Connery would have been able to pinch more souvenirs from the set than Sir Ian McKellen, given his background playing super-sleuth James Bond. The casting of Gandalf recently broke into news late last year amidst the hype surrounding the upcoming Amazon TV series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. ScreenRant posed the option of Gandalf being recast as a younger version of the iconic wizard, to which McKellen was quick to respond.
Stealing Gandalf away from Ian McKellen would be a far more heinous crime than the star innocently pinching props from under Peter Jackson’s nose. However, the long-standing Shakespearean Thespian has more than enough to take his mind off such troubling thoughts. McKellen is returning to the role of Hamlet for this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. McKellen also cited his love of Shakespeare when he weighed in on the discussion of who can and can’t play certain roles. A longstanding member of the LGBTQ+ community, McKellen sees no issue in heterosexual performers in homosexual roles and vice versa, claiming he finds it invigorating to explore themes of heterosexuality in the likes of Macbeth. McKellen well and truly is a triple threat, a fantastic actor, a cunning thief, and a well-versed mind capable of engaging in topical debates.