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By Ree Hines and Ree Hines and Ree Hines

Movie magic makes fantasy worlds seem real and breaths artificial life into any sort of creature. But that's not all it can do. As Ian McKellen, star of the upcoming "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and veteran of Peter Jackson's special-effects-filled "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, revealed on TODAY Monday morning, it can even create co-stars out of actors who never really shared a single shot together.

"I never worked with Elijah Wood," McKellen confessed. "He was the main part in 'Lord of the Rings,' but he's smaller than me, so we could never be together."

And history repeated itself on the set of the prequel. For "The Hobbit," McKellen reprised his role as the towering Gandalf, but once again, his co-star was nowhere near him during their so-called shared scenes.

"I never really worked with Martin Freeman, who plays (the diminutive) Bilbo in this," he explained. "That's acting, isn't it?"

But in this case, it was an acting job McKellen nearly didn't take.

"(It was) very close actually -- close over a long period -- because Peter Jackson first said he wouldn't be directing 'The Hobbit,' then he said he would and then he said he wouldn't," McKellen recalled. "And another director came in, Guillermo del Toro, and then he said he wouldn't do it. Then Jackson said he (still) wouldn't do it. It was all on and off and on and off. So I began to see all the negatives, preparing myself for the moment it wouldn't be made. And then suddenly it was made, and I couldn't resist it. I had to go back -- A. to New Zealand, and B. to Middle Earth."

Fans will have a chance to return to Middle Earth when "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 14.  


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