A few days ago, a video of an on-set disagreement between and made the rounds. It was said to be a special feature for the extended edition release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. At first, I thought little of it, but apparently the frustration demonstrated by McKellen in that moment is symptomatic of a much larger distress he felt during production.
Talking to Radio Times, the 74-year-old thespian admitted that working within the confines of the film's many post-production effects was nearly too much for him to bear. He referred to the production as "green screen land," and admitted to being "pretty miserable" during shooting to the point that he considered giving up on acting altogether. Apparently much of the trouble stemmed from the new methods by which Gandalf is made to appear larger than his dwarf co-stars. The simple force perspective used to make him so much taller than the hobbits in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy was no longer an option given the 3D cameras used for The Hobbit trilogy.
McKellen went on to state...
“It was so distressing and off-putting and difficult that I thought ‘I don’t want to make this film if this is what I’m going to have to do’. It’s not what I do for a living. I act with other people, I don’t act on my own."
In fairness, McKellen did go on to express gratitude for the way in which tried to comfort him when frustrations ran highest; filling his trailer with Middle-earth relics so he felt more encompassed by the world of the film.
"I was made to feel," he said, "as so often happens when you’re working with Peter Jackson and his colleagues, that you belong and you’re to feel at ease and at home and happy.”
While I'm obviously relieved that McKellen did not leave the production, and even more grateful the master actor did not give up on his craft, this story is microcosmic of the larger problem I have with Peter Jackson recently. He is becoming way too reliant upon unnecessary technology. There was no reason any of these films had to be in 3D, and even LESS reason to shoot in that god-awful 48fps. I'm sorry, but when it gets to the point that the cornerstone of your franchise is ready to walk off the set because of the superfluous visual gimmicks, maybe it's time to reevaluate their neccessity.
Thanks for sticking it out, Ian.
What do you guys think?