“The Hobbit” Trilogy’s expansive ensemble cast includes a core of artists reprising their now-iconic roles from “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy. “Now that a decade has passed since we made the first films, the iconography of the characters is everywhere,” director Peter Jackson notes. “When Ian McKellen walked out on set, it felt like you were seeing Gandalf again—the line between actor and character has become so thin.”
Holding a consistent place as a driving force and vital constant throughout both trilogies is the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, as embodied by Ian McKellen. From the moment McKellen first donned Gandalf’s Wizard’s hat, the acclaimed stage and screen star has become the face of the Grey Wizard for generations of fans.
“Making these films has been a huge part of my life because of the distance I’ve traveled, the friends I’ve made, and this beautiful piece of storytelling that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of,” says the legendary actor. “It’s been lovely to have people come up to me and tell me what Gandalf means to them, and now I’m hearing from kids who were not yet born when we made the ‘Rings’ films, who can’t wait to see the last ‘Hobbit’ movie. You just have to accept that Gandalf exists so strongly beyond the books and the films; he is an idea as much as person.”
But the wise, compassionate and occasionally mischievous Grey Wizard is not invulnerable.
Venturing alone to confront the re-emerged specter of Sauron—the ancient evil his fellow guardians of Middle-earth could not be moved to acknowledge—Gandalf has fallen directly into the Dark Lord’s trap and faces certain death within the catacombs of the ruined fortress of Dol Guldur.
But Gandalf will not face the Ancient Enemy alone. His ageless friend and powerful ally in the White Council, the Elf Queen Galadriel, once again played by Cate Blanchett, promised that if he needed her help, she would come. “Gandalf is at his darkest ebb, really, when in comes the mighty Queen of the Elves,” says McKellen. “This is one of Cate’s more ethereal performances, but she’s so good at being absolutely real. Galadriel and Gandalf clearly like each other enormously, and that reflects how much I like Cate.”
The acclaimed actress, who embodies the luminous Lady of Lothlorien across both trilogies, observes that the connection between Galadriel and Gandalf is among the strongest and most poignant in Middle-earth. “What makes Gandalf such a wonderful mythic hero is that to save the world, he will move into the darkness that no one else is prepared to see because the stakes are so high for all of them,” Blanchett observes. “Galadriel too will use all her powers to ensure that evil can’t prevail, but she goes to Dol Guldur, knowing she may not emerge, out of her love for him. Every character in his film, including Galadriel, is put to the test in some way—not only against forces of evil, but often against themselves.”
Opening across the Philippines on Friday, Dec. 12, in theaters and IMAX®, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.