McKellen will repeat his role as the wizard Gandalf, seen in director Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. Tony Award winner McKellen, who is currently starring as Estragon on the London stage in Waiting for Godot, reports, "[The] two films start shooting in New Zealand in July. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth. The director Guillermo del Toro is now living in Wellington [New Zealand], close to the Jacksons' and the studio in Miramar."
The script, according to Variety, is by Jackson, his writer-wife Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens and director del Toro.
No official release date has been announced for the New Line picture, which concerns Bilbo Baggins, the title Middle Earth being who snags the famously powerful ring that figures into "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
McKellen won his 1981 Tony Award for playing Salieri in Amadeus.