‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’: Ian McKellen on his Tolkien legacy

Dec. 15, 2013 | 10:00 a.m.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo, from left, Jed Brophy as Nori and Richard Armitage as Thorin in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

Ian McKellen as Gandalf, left, and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (James Fisher / Warner Bros.)

Richard Armitage as Thorin, left, and Dean O'Gorman as Fili in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Graham McTavish as Dwalin, left, Ken Stott as Balin, Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin and William Kircher as Bifur in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)

Ian McKellen as Gandalf, left, and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Azog, portrayed by Manu Bennett through motion-capture technology, in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

William Kircher as Bifur, left, John Callen as Oin, Richard Armitage as Thorin and Ken Stott as Balin in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake-town, left, and Ryan Gage as Alfrid in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Peggy Nesbitt as Sigrid, Mary Nesbitt as Tilda and John Bell as Bain in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Azog, portrayed by Manu Bennett through motion-capture technology, in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Lee Pace as Thranduil in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Lee Pace as Thranduil in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Luke Evans as Bard in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in a poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Warner Bros.)

Sir Ian McKellen has played countless classic characters in his decades of work on stage and screen, but he says the wizard Gandalf is the one for which he’ll most likely be remembered.

“When I die, that’s what it’s going to say, ‘Gandalf dies,’ ” McKellen offered with a deadpan nod at the Hero Complex preview screening of his new film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Presented in IMAX 3D at 48 frames per second, the free event took place Dec. 9 at New York’s AMC 34th Street 14 & IMAX, with McKellen participating in a wide-ranging Q&A after the screening.

The latest fantasy from director Peter Jackson based on the work of author J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Desolation of Smaug” sees Richard Armitage’s dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield and Martin Freeman’s Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and the other members of their company continue their quest across Middle-earth to defeat the evil dragon Smaug and reclaim the treasure-filled city of Erebor beneath the Lonely Mountain.

McKellen’s wizard Gandalf sets out on a mission of his own, hoping to determine the strength of a primal evil.

To watch other portions of the interview with McKellen, click here and here.

And to find out first about upcoming films that will be featured in the Hero Complex Screening Series, follow us on Twitter: @LATherocomplex.

– Gina McIntyre

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Comments


13 Responses to ‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’: Ian McKellen on his Tolkien legacy

  1. Tom Harris says:

    My wife and I saw this movie tonight with our teenage girls and a nice friend who paid for us all and I can honestly say that it was worse than a waste of his money – even our daughters who read the book said it was terrible – lots of things that were not in the book included, lots of (good) things that were in the book removed and super intense violence and death from beginning to end. I went for a walk outside part way through after the 50th head was chopped off in battle. As we watched it in 3-D Imax, to me, it was like being inside a very violent video game without all the quaint parts that Tolkien had in his book, removed.

    Tom

    • Patrick says:

      Grow up.

      • Liam Lynch says:

        Tom Harris is actually spot on. There are too many people around who aren't willing to admit that Jackson hasn't repeated the magic of the LOTR films. I really wanted to like the Hobbit films, but it's just too hard. It resembles a mediocre video game more and more, and the book less and less. Really disappointing. They aren't a blight on McKellen's talent, because we all know how good he is, but the two Hobbit films so far are painfully bad.

    • John Sileo says:

      "super intense violence and death"?? Had you not seen any of the other movies? The last part of the LOTR trilogy had one of the most violent war scenes ever ! If you were not aware of that, a simple visit to a movie website wouldve told you of the strong caution that parents should exercise when allowing kids to view the movie. It is a fantasy and it is a movie- not a book- you can never expect a movie to match the book exactly. You also make no mention of the brilliant acting performances. When I see a film with such great acting, I get totally entranced. I could not even think about going for a walk outside partway thru. I highly recommend this movie- it is 2 and half hours long and still left me wanting to see more !

    • kaye says:

      Reading the Hobbit isn't enough to understand all of the extra characters, why don't you spend your time reading The Silmarilion, Tom Bombadil etc so you can see where they came from, rather than mindlessly criticising the film.

  2. Daniel Cocciardi says:

    This is a politically correct revision of the story. They added a female "Tauriel," who did not exist in the original story. The trilogy was well done but this one is horrible. It is obvious that someone else took over in this movie. Something is different.

  3. Julia Bolsakova says:

    well, this is silly to say. Of course movie is not the same as book, and can't be fully the same as book. I am a fan of J.R.R.Tolkien myself, and to my mind Peter Jackson did a really great and hardwork, he really feels the world of Tolkien, and just showing his own interpretation, understand, that everyone has their own view and fantasies, and of course everyone sees one and the same character so different. About the cruel battles, probably you didn't read Silmarillion and never read the biography oh Tolkien, he went through the world war himself, and he wanted to share all that with people in the way he liked more, still having hope in his heart.
    I advice you to get more information, and understand book deeply

  4. act_on_love says:

    I've read both the Hobbit and LOTR at least 20x each, have loved these books deeply since childhood.
    The Hobbit was written on a very simplistic level, to appeal to his own son, who would have had no interest in romance and very little in character development. But Tolkein's backstory in the Silmarillion makes clear that female elves were capable warriors. Would Legolas, a prince in his own realm for 600 years without the chance of becoming king, have a boring & indolent life holed up in his father's palace? No. Giving Legolas further screen time and giving the Dwarfs and Bard much greater character development was a stroke of genius.
    I agree the battle scenes with the goblins were overlong. Also the daylight made them "weak and wobbly". But filming the barrel scene at night would have been so murky, no way to tell what was happening. I would've cut the time on the barrel chase substantially, but maybe that was someone else's favorite part.
    All in all, because it answered some questions hinted at in LOTR, the appendices, and Silmarillion, I'm liking the Hobbit movie *better* than the book.

  5. T. Marshall says:

    Peter Jackson is a movie maker, therefore he can't keep every moment from the books because he isn't making the books – he is making a movie BASED on the books. I think he is doing a great job of incorporating the important moments from the Hobbit, expanding the story more (Gandalf's journey with the Necromancer), and researching in other elements of Tolkien's work that also encompass middle earth (The Silmarillian for example). Anyone who dislikes these movies because they aren't exactly like the book is not looking at the bigger picture that Jackson is trying to create. Adding characters like Radagahst (who is from the Silmirillian) and Tauriel (who is from any of Tolkien's works) is not going against the story – it is expanding it.

    If people keep their minds open, they might discover a story being told that is more than about a single hobbit. As Gandalf says at the end of the hobbit: "You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"

    • Derek says:

      Good comment. Tolkien wanted and expected people to add to and contribute to his creation. Drawing on the additional materials is a no brainer. Allowing other characters to come from nowhere is viable. The only question is how true is it to Tolkien's original themes and intent.

  6. David says:

    Peter Jackson have done a great work on Hobbit desolation of Smaug.I cant think on anything I would change.It had everything in it plus the book was boring comparing to the movie.
    If you dont like the movie then you are poor Tolkien Fan!!! :)
    Peter Jackson had to improvise and he done a marvelous job the scene with (SPOILER) Gandalf and Sauron in Dol Guldur was outstanding :)
    Im sure that the third part will be even more surprising then this one :)

  7. bri says:

    i really enjoyed the hobbit 2 : desolation of smaug. will see it again.

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