Wait, did you know the legendary Sir Ian McKellen, almost didn't play either Gandalf or Magneto because of... Tom Cruise?
Crazy, I know! Imagine a world without the magic of McKellen behind two of entertainment's greatest characters. In an interview with People Magazine, McKellen waxes lyrical, candidly, about how he nearly pulled a Sean Connery and missed out on two of the biggest cinematic roles of his career:
"I got offered a part in Mission: Impossible II with Tom Cruise, but they wouldn’t let me see the whole script because I might have spilled the beans. I only got my scenes.
I couldn't judge from reading just those scenes what the script was like. So I said no, and my agent said, 'You cant say no to working with Tom Cruise!' and I said, 'I think I will.'
The next day, Bryan Singer asked me to play Magneto and then Peter Jackson asked me to play Gandalf, and I said yes to both."
Like the absolute badass he is! But due to schedule conflicts, those 6 Christmases in Middle-Earth may never have been the same:
"Then, Bryan Singer's first X-Men overran its preparation. It had to delay, delay, delay, delay. So I had to call up Peter Jackson and say, 'I'm sorry. I can't play Gandalf because X-Men, which I agreed to do first, is overrunning.'
And Peter Jackson said, 'Well, I'll keep it free for you. Let me know what happens.' I told Bryan Singer and he said, 'Well, you must do Gandalf. I'll make sure you get out in time.'"
Which goes to show that directors are truly some of the biggest nerds on our pale blue dot. To have a filmmaker of Singer's calibre say "you gotta be Gandalf, man," is pretty much a barometer of how insane a casting coup his acquiring was!
Well, being honest and all, I for one wager McKellen made the right choice. What about you?