TODAY   |  December 03, 2012

Ian McKellen: Green screen can be ‘unnerving’

The legendary actor talks with TODAY’s Matt Lauer about reprising his role as Gandalf the Wizard in the new film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” and working with the special effects required to create Middle Earth.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> "the lord of the rings " trilogy cast a spell over audiences and took in nearly $3 billion in the process. now the world is ready to return to the middle earth in "the hobb hobbit," an unexpected journey . ia ian mcdermott is here back in his role as gandolf.

>> we've done it backwards.

>> according to what i've read had you to come up with a pros and cons list in terms of whether or not you wanted to come back to this role. how close was if?

>> very close actually.

>> close over a long period because peter jackson first said he wouldn't be directing "the hobbit" and then he said he would and wouldn't and then another director came in and said he wouldn't do it and jackson said he wouldn't do it and it was on and off and then i saw all the negatives and then i saw it and i couldn't resist. had to go back to, a, new zealand and then, b, to middle earth .

>> are you happy that the pro list outweighed the con list?

>> not over and done with. five more weeks to do, but, yeah, had a wonderful time, great cast.

>> you spent a lot of time in a peter jackson movie working with a green screen . how is that for someone who has been in the business as long as you have? do you like that?

>> it's not as much as you see? if you see gandolf on top of a mountain, i've been there. true, taken by a helicopter, but the green screen sometimes happens in the studio and it it be a bit unnerving. i had a scene on my very first day back filming, 13 dwarves and the hobbit, which the movie is about, they are in one studio and i'm in another studio being filmed simultaneously by different cameras hearing them through an ear piece and pretending they are with me looking at pictures of them on stands, it was very difficult, but there you go.

>> it's all fantasy when it comes right down to it.

>> i never worked with elijah woods because he was the main part in " lord of the rings " and he's smaller of me and we couldn't be together. i never worked with martin friedman who plays bilboa in this.

>> the anticipation is huge, and i know a lot of people can't wait until this one comes out. always nice to have you here.

>> thank you very much.

>> enjoy yourself in new zealand.

>> going in a couple of weeks. i might ask you for tips on that, and "the hobbit, an up expected journey" opens on december 17th .