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McKellen: One of the iconic figures of my lifetime

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,' $73.6 million
2. 'Mona Lisa Smile,' $12 million
3. 'Something's Gotta Give,' $11.5 million
4. 'The Last Samurai,' $7.3 million
5. 'Stuck on You,' $5.4 million
6. 'Elf,' $5 million
7. 'Bad Santa,' $4.3 million
8. 'The Haunted Mansion,' $ 4.2 million
9. 'Love Don't Cost a Thing,' $ 4 million
10 'Honey,' $ 2.6 million
CNN Access
Ian McKellen
Daryn Kagan
Lord of the Rings

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Days after the opening of "Return of the King," the film industry is talking about Oscars and Golden Globes and about $125 million in ticket sales. CNN anchor Daryn Kagan spoke with Ian McKellen, who plays the wizard Gandalf.

KAGAN: So much is being made of this trilogy, some saying this is the best film trilogy of all time, but also saying that this is the best of the three installments. Which of the three is your favorite?

MCKELLEN: Oh, of course, I should say 3, but 1, actually...

KAGAN: Really?

MCKELLEN: Because I play two parts. I'm the lucky guy. I play Gandalf the White, who's in this third movie, but also Gandalf the Gray, who is just a bit more fun, I think. I mean, he likes a chat and a drink and a smoke and he's a little bit lazy and a little bit more human. And I enjoyed playing him more than that rather stern commander who sees things through to the bitter end.

KAGAN: Yes. Gandalf is sort of the adult-in-charge in the third part.


KAGAN: Now, we've entered into award season here. Golden Globe nominations came out this week, Oscars right around the corner, this movie being heralded as the movie to beat. And yet with these big award shows, like Golden Globes and Oscars, they tend to stay away from the fantasy films.

MCKELLEN: Well, if that were the reason, they'd be wrong. I don't think this is fantasy. This is myth. There's a bit of a difference. This isn't about a world that hasn't happened yet. This is about a world that's all over, and it's a great adventure story. But I think the real story about the success of these films isn't in the awards, which may or may not happen -- who can predict? -- but the fact that the success has been made not by the critics and not by hype, but by ordinary people going to see them and communicating with each other, even before the movies came out, via the Internet. It's not been covered yet by the press, and it's the geeks and the nerds who've come into their own, you know?

KAGAN: Geek power.

MCKELLEN: Oh, absolutely. All over the world. I mean, my Web site has 40 million hits in the last four weeks.

KAGAN: Even with the Golden Globe nominations that have come out for the movie, no acting nominations. Do you think that perhaps the good acting does get overlooked?

MCKELLEN: Well, New York Board of Review gave us an ensemble, you know, so we all got a prize, as it were. And I suppose it's difficult to pick out one from another, isn't it, as we're all doing it together.

KAGAN: It is a true ensemble piece. Not just the actors, but all the special effects and Gollum and all the characters.

McKellen in action as Gandalf
McKellen in action as Gandalf

MCKELLEN: But I mean, if Peter Jackson isn't given every prize going, there is no justice in the world.

KAGAN: Then there'll be some kind of investigation. But when they came to you and asked you to be part of this, did you have any idea that it would become something so big?

MCKELLEN: No. Nobody did. I hadn't read the books. I hadn't yet made contact with one of the iconic figures of my lifetime, Gandalf, and I now adore him as much as everybody else. But I am only his representative. I don't think anyone could have known or suspected it would have been this large, although there was ready and waiting a huge audience who loved the books and were crossing their fingers that we would come up with a movie that matched their own imaginations, and that seems to have happened.

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