Ian McKellen Updates His Blog: On Noses, Beards and Robes

Ian McKellen

We have three updates on Sir Ian McKellen’s blog. In the first entry, he writes about his grooming and how being clean-shaven is a requirement for the actors so that the prosthetics and the fake beards can be better applied. His fake nose was shortened on his request. 🙂

The next day, up the stairs of the make-up trailer, where Rick only took an hour to pop on the wig, the beard the moustache. I and others thought them too short, until photographs of the Fellowship of the Ring proved us wrong. Gandalf’s hair had grown only in our memories. The false nose too looked not quite as we’d remembered. That’s because it wasn’t. I had requested a smaller nose than last time. The WETA sculptors were making new noses anyway, silicone replacing the old sticky gelatine which tended to slide around if the wizard sneezed or shouted.

It’s like old times. Gandy’s clothes are hanging round my trailer and in steps Emma Harre, who dressed me last time, valiant, sporting, reliable and ready to put up once more with my early morning grumps and end-of-day sloth. We giggle as we remember the tricks of the layered costume, the hidden belts and braces. It’s all new, and looking it, and will till broken down. But it fits, even the new hat. I stride over to the Studio smiling. Nothing is unexpected. But next the 3D camera will eye-up the make-up, the costume and, I suppose, the actor.


In the next entry, he writes about principal photography beginning with just the actors who play the 13 dwarves alongwith their body doubles.

Then once again we hear about the wardrobe changes. Which is pretty exciting and visual in description. Here is a snippet:

The original costume I wore in LOTR hangs rather mournfully on a stand by the camera. I can’t wear it in The Hobbit, because it has been noted “of historic status.” Ann has made two changes which few may notice but please me because they revert to Tolkien’s introduction in Fellowship of the Ring, where he mentions a silver scarf and black boots. In the film, a scarf appeared just once, tied to Gandalf’s cart at Hobbiton but oddly not thereafter. I now have a substantial, magic-looking silvery scarf to wear and act with and perhaps find some part of its own to play. I’ve already twisted it into a stylish turban. And, as per JRR Tolkien, below the familiar gown, a new pair of black boots may be spied. They will not look new of course. They are riding boots, the sort that can be pulled on in a hurry. Gandalf is often in a hurry. His previous boots were laced and needed Emma to get on and off. Not good for a wizard on the run. And they were grey not black.

All are nearly content — yet still the nose is not as it was or as it should be, all agree. Why? A book is consulted. A glorious book. I have it at home, with other LOTR treasures, the farewell present from Philippa and the Jackson’s ten years ago. It has 100 photographs, iconic and mischievous, a family album of people rather than places. Gandalf’s nose features in a couple of full-page close-ups. What’s different to the way I look now?

Overnight at WETA, close to his Oscars, Richard, who is confident he knows the answer, models a new nose on the plaster cast of my face. It’s a little longer on the bridge, less bulbous by the nostrils. Later in the day, Rick sticks it on while I snooze. One glance at the beak in the mirror and off we confidently go to show Peter, who’s filming in a cave; Fran and Philippa too. Again the album is consulted. Smiles all round.


The last entry made me grin. It tells of the final say after the screen test of the wardrobe changes.

It’s now been suggested that the wizard’s wig and beard look too scarily hairy. An aside from me has been noted and so Gandalf in The Hobbit is now going to be bald as Patrick Stewart. So much for the wig. Whether the beard is also to be cut, is not yet revealed.



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