It's all done with magic
January 13, 2011 8:53 AM   Subscribe

There's no sex in Middle Earth! Sir Ian McKellen sets the record straight in Vanity Fair.
posted by londonmark (106 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel like my mom wrote the second paragraph, and I have no idea why it was included in the article.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:56 AM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


God, those questions were inane. And some were borderline insulting -- did he really ask Ian McKellan about whether he drank before going onstage? And then justify it by saying that he'd heard about other actors who did?

I wanted to tell the interviewer to fuck off on McKellan's behalf.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on January 13, 2011 [47 favorites]


As a kid, I was a bit cautious about not stepping on cracks in a sidewalk. But I think that was more of a challenge than a superstition.

This is hilarious to imagine, but of course Ian McKellan was never a kid.
posted by DU at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm with the Empress. I came in here to say this interview made me like Ian McKellen even more but the interviewer so much less.

still wish he was Dumbledore.
posted by Brainy at 9:02 AM on January 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, you may find the first sentence of the writer's bio on the site relevant: "Eric Spitznagel has been a regular contributor to VF.com since early 2009, asking really inappropriate questions to everyone from Willie Nelson and Kevin Smith to Warren G and Malin Akerman."

He's edgy, you see.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:03 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


These were really ...strange questions.

Anyway it doesn't matter cause McKellan is a wizard so there.
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would have asked him about Apt Pupil or if he could call Michael Mann and get The Keep out on disc at some point. What was The Shadow like to work on? Everyone in that film seemed to be having a marvelous time.

The biggest question of all: how did this person wind up interviewing McKellen?
posted by adipocere at 9:05 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the kind of interview I find most intriguing. I imagine celebrities get through about 50 of these from all over the world each week. Either that, or the vast majority of them are completely made up with only a cursory approval by the celeb's agent.

Because there are insane numbers of these little interviews. Every TV guide and tabloid in the western world has them... inane questions about the latest product they're appearing in, and in the case of female celebrities, at least one question that could result in a "Jessica Alba likes it rough" teaser headline, when she's probably talking about her preferred sanding paper or something.

Err.. I don't know where all that came from. Inane celebrity culture rant over.
posted by Harry at 9:07 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kudos to McKellen for providing a fascinating interview, even in spite of the godawful questions posed by the interviewer. Is Tao Lin now writing pseudonymously for Vanity Fair?

He showed a remarkable amount of restraint by finishing the interview in good faith, and remaining civil throughout it. I can't say I'd have reacted to those questions so well.
posted by schmod at 9:07 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


A much better Ian McKellen interview.
posted by kmz at 9:07 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


This makes me cringe more than Jools Holland interviewing Yoko Ono.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2011


His comments on the origins of the Macbeth taboo were very interesting.

Hot potato, off his drawers, Puck will make amends. Ow!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:09 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


If one loved Ian McKellen for nothing else, one would have to love him for having granted a conservative politician's request for an autograph for his children by signing, "Fuck off, I'm gay."

In the LOTR bonus features, the costume designer sighs over what "a fabulous man" he is. I heartily agree.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:09 AM on January 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


Apparently, the whole serious is supposed to be awkward questions. I imagine the interviewer cleared the premise with McKellen before they began, as he seemed game. Good for him.

I'm seeing too much of this sort of interviewing. There is value in impertinence, but it shouldn't be a defining character trait.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on January 13, 2011


I'm going to say that he probably told McKellen ahead of time something like: "I'm about to ask you some really dumb and crass questions, please don't be horribly offended."
posted by empath at 9:10 AM on January 13, 2011


if he could call Michael Mann and get The Keep out on disc at some point.

Derail: It's been on the Netflix instant recently. And there are xvid rips of the laserdisc out there in the usual dens of iniquity.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2011


For the record, not all of Leviticus is about homophobia, violence, and exclusion.
posted by The White Hat at 9:13 AM on January 13, 2011


I love Ian McKellan. He has a great bloggy website of sorts that he seems to write entirely himself, no PR flack nonsense.

Also I have a total crush on him and love how he slyly plays roles that echo older/younger gay relationships. Apt Pupil was all kinds of sexy with Brad Renfro and all and deliciously wrong in the Nazi aspect. I also loved his work in The Prisoner remake, again with the sexy time with Jamie Campbell Bower, although any explicit homoerotic tension is avoided given the father/son aspect.
posted by Nelson at 9:13 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"still wish he was Dumbledore."

?

And of course there's no sex in Middle Earth! They're British.
posted by Eideteker at 9:16 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh Apt Pupil was so not sly. That was not subtext, that was text.

But I agree, whenever I see Sir Ian I feel like I should give him a Duchy or something.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on January 13, 2011


Based on that, I'm pretty sure they apparently let any idiot conduct interviews for Vanity Fair.
posted by crunchland at 9:17 AM on January 13, 2011


The whole introduction feels like it needs a bunch of footnotes that say 'Not that there's anything wrong with that!'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:19 AM on January 13, 2011


Was that a drug reference, or do you think he needs feudal control over a tiny chunk of Europe? I can't tell which one seems weirder.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


He can have both.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does "guest editor" Justin Bieber think of this?
posted by hermitosis at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


As far as Gandalf vs. Dumbledore goes, Gandalf isn't just a wizard. He's one of the Maiar, who are of the order of the Valar. So he's, like, superhuman and shit.

Albus would have no chance whatsoever.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


[Rolls eyes.] I cannot believe I have to answer these silly questions.

I can't believe I bothered to read the whole thing, hoping it would improve at some point.

He had the opportunity to interview Sir Ian McKellan and wasted it on inanities.
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the article: With all due respect to the gay community, they don’t have to contend with nearly the same anxiety and helplessness as a Lord of the Rings blogger.

Ugh. Even if that's an attempt at humor, I'm done.
posted by sleevener at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


That business about the "get over it" t-shirt was inane.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2011


I do rather like the idea of somebody going up to McKellen and shouting "Holy shit! It's Uncle Vanya!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:27 AM on January 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


You can't have a Viggo Mortsen all hot in that film and not have sex. I won't stand for it!!!
posted by stormpooper at 9:30 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


slyly plays roles that echo older/younger gay relationships.

Thinking about just how well McKellen does charmingly coy, I come to to one of the things (and there are so many things) that ruined the X-Men movies, namely by the 3rd film they had totally dropped the It's All About Sex Subtext and the sly lampshading and playing with it ("have you tried not being a mutant') and it just became text and seriously dull.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I saw the "Are You Positive?" question, I was ready to begin writing Vanity Fair a very nasty letter, before realizing that the interviewer wasn't talking about that.

This style of interview seems to suit a certain brand of celebrity better than others (although it seems dehumanizing to the subjects just the same). For instance, Jeremy Clarkson's interviews (and most of the 'interviews' on UK panel shows, Jon Stewart, etc.) are irreverent, but not outright insulting.
posted by schmod at 9:36 AM on January 13, 2011


At this point I will accept nothing less than all three versions of The Keep on Blu-Ray, with commentary, deleted scenes, and quite possibly a little silver T in each package. I have waited long enough.
posted by adipocere at 9:39 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the questions were pretty good, actually. Yes, he harped too much on the British actors being drunks (it's not just actors my friend!), but any interview which can elicit the remark "There is no sex in Middle Earth" must be doing something right. It's got to be better than yet another round of "What was it like to be Gandalf?".

I agree that McKellen ends up looking even cooler than before. He actually wrote a lot online about doing LoTR. I'm not sure if this has been covered on the blue before, but you can read everything here including about 3 million questions from fans answered with a great deal of grace and humor. Warning, this will easily suck up hours of your time and thus probably qualifies as NSFW.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is a man who famously went on a talk show in Singapore, a country with strict laws against homosexuality, and asked the host, “Can you recommend any decent gay bars?”

I fucking love this man.
posted by blucevalo at 9:43 AM on January 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


This whole thing reads like a late-show interview which is based around the idea of the host as the irrepressible dumb kid asking really stupid questions of celebrities. The way it usually works is that the celebrity either feeds back equally stupid and banal bullshit about what's being marketed that week or gets stiff and becomes the brunt of the joke.

McKellen's witty enough to roll with the good jokes, call Spiztangel on the really dumb ones, and dignified enough to point out where gay rights isn't a laughing matter for him.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:46 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I preferred the one where McKellen got asked "Does Gandalf have a love interest?" and he replied "Yes, and his name is Orlando Bloom".
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


At this point I will accept nothing less than all three versions of The Keep on Blu-Ray, with commentary, deleted scenes, and quite possibly a little silver T in each package.

Don't take the T out of the package. That would be... bad.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, it seems Judi Dench at least has had some experience with pre-show drinking.
posted by kmz at 9:58 AM on January 13, 2011


I blame Deborah Solomon.
posted by steambadger at 10:02 AM on January 13, 2011


Ian McKellen will always be No. 2 to my heart, much more so than any of the original actors.
posted by byanyothername at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2011


[The LOTR tattoo] was a sweet idea. The hobbits had such a wonderful time on their first big job, and they wanted to commemorate it in some way.

Awww.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:04 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hope the interviewer's mummy took right him home and made him go straight to bed without playing with his lego.

McKellen's awesomeness knows few bounds. He was even involved with setting up Stonewall! See here for a lovely and awe-inspiring interview.
posted by runincircles at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2011


I agree that the questions were depressingly lame. However, the column is called Eric Spitznagel's Awkward Question Time. So, it's not like it doesn't fit the mold.
posted by NationalKato at 10:08 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There certainly is sex in Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings pushes almost all of it to the epilogue and appendices where we discover that everyone but Frodo, Legolas, and Gimli get a happily ever after with the fairest woman of their realm, or at least their township. The Silmarillion is filled with a fair bit more of it but it's pretty sappy heroic quest for courtly love kind of stuff of the formula:

1: Boy meets girl.
2: They fall in love.
3: Big quest to prove their love.
4: Boy and girl spend a monogamous century producing the half-elven ancestors of Aragorn.

Granted, I have a soft spot for the tale of Beren and Luthien which arguably gives us Tolkien's best female protagonist. But sex and sexuality isn't exactly Tolkien's strong point.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:11 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you think there's no sex in Middle Earth, you have not really read the Mirkwood spider fight scene in The Hobbit.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2011


This was a pretty readable interview, and I couldn't decide whether the interviewer's obnoxiousness was what helped it along, so I decided to look up his past columns. I found this retrospective of his "most awkward interview moments" of 2010. It is very annoying and not as fun as the McKellan interview. It's especially irritating because he extracted segments in which he asked questions he thought were clever, even if they led to boring answers. (I did like the bit about Shaq being an internet detective though.)
posted by painquale at 10:23 AM on January 13, 2011


I love that he refers to the actors who played the hobbits as "the hobbits".
posted by Flunkie at 10:24 AM on January 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Keep is available as a Netflix stream. Now I know what I'm doing tonight! It's also available in digital form on BitTorrent, at least judging by a quick search.
posted by Nelson at 10:25 AM on January 13, 2011


Oh, and what's up with this:
Along with recent reports that Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, and the guy who plays Gollum are also Hobbit-ready, it would seem that the band, as they say, is really getting back together.
Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, and Cate Blanchett played characters in the Lord of the Rings that were not in the Hobbit (as far as I remember). Are they going to be playing different characters, or are the characters going to be retrofitted into the story?
posted by Flunkie at 10:26 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What was The Shadow like to work on? Everyone in that film seemed to be having a marvelous time.

Word. That's one of the reasons I like the film despite -- or maybe because of -- being a huge Shadow fan.
posted by Gelatin at 10:29 AM on January 13, 2011


Flunkie, word is that Wood will be in segments that bookend the main movie.

As far as Bloom and Blanchett, I don't know, but I expect it wouldn't be impossible to write them in somehow. Bloom needs work.
posted by HostBryan at 10:31 AM on January 13, 2011


I thought the questions were okay, too. It's hard to find an angle when the subject has been interviewed 10,000 times. And Spitznagel's whole schtick is the inappropriate question. It's not like Sir Ian or his PR person didn't know what would happen.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:31 AM on January 13, 2011


Also I have a total crush on him and love how he slyly plays roles that echo older/younger gay relationships.

Or not so slyly, as in the excellent Gods and Monsters.
posted by Gelatin at 10:32 AM on January 13, 2011


"[The LOTR tattoo] was a sweet idea. The hobbits had such a wonderful time on their first big job, and they wanted to commemorate it in some way."

Awww.


I've always been charmed by how obvious all the LOTR actors' fondness for each other was in interviews. I caught a TODAY show interview with Ian McKellan after the first film, and they cut to a clip that featured Gandalf and Frodo; and when they cut back to the studio, Ian was absolutely beaming, and gushed something like, "Oh, Elijiah! It's so good to see him...." before returning to the interview.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2011


Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, and Cate Blanchett played characters in the Lord of the Rings that were not in the Hobbit (as far as I remember). Are they going to be playing different characters, or are the characters going to be retrofitted into the story?

Chances are the movies will be bookended with Frodo reading the account Bilbo wrote about his journey to Lonely Mountain.

As far as Bloom and Blanchett... Well, from all accounts, this is NOT going to be The Hobbit that you find in the book. They're talking about expanding the story a lot (enough to fill two movies), putting in scenes with Gandalf off doing things while the Party is making their way to Mirkwood, etc. And I won't get all spoilery and tell you what I've read about Bilbo's role in the Battle Of Five Armies, but it nearly made me try to throw my computer across the room.

I look forward to the movies, but don't expect them to be the projection of what I had always seen in my mind like Fellowship Of The Ring was.
posted by hippybear at 10:38 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meh, there's already a definitive Hobbit movie, anyway.
posted by Nelson at 10:42 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read earlier that Bloom has not yet committed to appear in The Hobbit, but the offer he is considering would pay him one million dollars to film a two-minute cameo.

The interview here didn't annoy me like it did everyone else. If you absorb a lot of media about film, you see the exact same questions in interviews over and over again. Actors who aren't even supposed to be acting end up spitting out the same answers word for word that they have so many times before. It's boring and reminds me that many actors hate doing publicity. Even if the questions are dumb, I appreciate the change, and I imagine the interviewees do as well.
posted by heatvision at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So at what point should I get around to seeing the LotR movies?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:49 AM on January 13, 2011


How did the interviewer (and Sir Ian) not get the Galdalf/Magneto joke? It's not about those roles being confusing, it's about getting over the fanboy squee of having McKellen play two campy cult heros. While the gravitas is different, it'd be like a shirt saying, "I'm Hamlet and David Copperfield, get over it."
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know how Sam (Gamgee) and Rosie Cotton-Gardener end up with 13 kids without a little "there and back again" if you know what I'm saying?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Those giant hawks double as storks.
posted by yeti at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Errr... eagles.

*hands over membership card*
posted by yeti at 11:01 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nelson: the library where I grew up had a copy of the soundtrack album (two LP set) which was basically a rip of the audio track of that movie laid onto vinyl. I recorded it onto cassette when I borrowed it and listened to it so much the magnetic material on the tape wore off.

I still can hear long stretches of it play in my head anytime I want. And I think the folk music adaptation of The Road Goes Ever On is still a total classic.

Now I wonder if the new movie is going to have any songs in it... Hrm.
posted by hippybear at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2011


I agree that McKellen ends up looking even cooler than before. He actually wrote a lot online about doing LoTR. I'm not sure if this has been covered on the blue before, but you can read everything here including about 3 million questions from fans answered with a great deal of grace and humor. Warning, this will easily suck up hours of your time and thus probably qualifies as NSFW.

Holy crap, you're not kidding. I'm imagining hearing the words in his voice, although I'm confident that I would commit a serious felony or nine to have it actually read out loud by McKellen himself.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:06 AM on January 13, 2011


Excuse if I get a little geeky here but it makes perfect sense to include Orlando Bloom's character Legolas. In the Hobbit, Bilbo's party are captured by the elves of the Woodland Realm and brought to King Thranduil, who is the father of Legolas. Now being Tolkien wrote the Hobbit well before LOTR, there is no mention of Thranduil's son in the Hobbit but it would be reasonable that he would be there. And equally reasonable that he would lead his father's forces in The Battle of the 5 Armies.

As far as Cate Blanchett goes, well she is part of the White Council that succeeded in throwing Sauron out of Dol Goldur. There is even a reference in the Appendix that after the War of the Ring, Galadriel destroyed the fortress of Dol Goldur with the power of her ring. Now that would make a scene. Have an army of elves surround the dark towers, the ranks part and Cate walks out barefoot, with that sly little smile. She waves her hand and the whole thing collapses with a roar. I could see Jackson filming that.
posted by Ber at 11:14 AM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, and here is the lovely artwork which was in the book accompanying that 2-LP set, all those years ago. Great stuff.
posted by hippybear at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're talking about expanding the story a lot (enough to fill two movies), putting in scenes with Gandalf off doing things while the Party is making their way to Mirkwood, etc.

Which included assembling an army with the White Council to attack Sauron's fortress of Dol Goldur, so easily work to be created for at least some of them. Legolas was almost certainly at the Mirkwood home of his dad, which figures prominently. There's plenty of stuff offstage to mess up; during that time period I think that Aragorn was serving incognito in the Rohirrim of Theoden's dad, so it's not inconceivable you could see a little Viggo in there too if they wanted to pony up (as it were) some more cash.

I'm finding this all a bit hard to get excited for.
posted by norm at 11:21 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hello, Ber.
posted by norm at 11:22 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm finding this all a bit hard to get excited for.

Agreed. When I first heard of the project, it was going to be a single film, running 3.5-4 hours (probably with an intermission a-la old Roadshow presentations of movies), and it was going to adhere to the book very closely.

Then the execs got greedy, decided to split it into two movies, but suddenly didn't have enough material, so they decided to just, you know, put stuff in. All stuff out of the history, but not in the book.

Expanding the story outside of the journey of Bilbo and the dwarves (dwarfs?) will take away a good part of the power of that story, which is an unprepared person going on an unexpected journey to unknown places all of which has consequences far beyond the knowledge of any involved.

Part of the success (IMO) of the Rankin/Bass adaptation is the tone of wistfulness which runs through the entire thing. Here is this hobbit who has longed more than anything for adventure all his life, a decidedly un-hobbitlike trait... And suddenly he's thrust into Grand Adventure, and spends more than just a bit of his time kind of wishing it had never come his way. The tone of the animation and music makes all that very clear, just as it is in the book.

I somehow doubt Jackson is going to spend much time having the viewer contemplate along with Bilbo that maybe all this wasn't such a good idea after all.
posted by hippybear at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's how I think the interview should have gone:
VF: So are you drunk right now or something? Lawl. DId I shock you?

IMK: I put on my robe and wizard hat.

VF: Pardon?

IMK: I cast Lvl. 3 Eroticism. You turn into a real beautiful woman.

VF: Hm. Uh ...

IMK: I meditate to regain my mana, before casting Lvl. 8 Cock of the Infinite.

VF: Look, if you want to skip that question that's-

IMK: I spend my mana reserves to cast Mighty F*ck of the Beyondness.

VF: I'm just going to stop recording now ...

IMK: Don't f*ck with me bitch, I'm the mightiest sorcerer of the lands.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:35 AM on January 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


IMK: I cast Lvl. 3 Eroticism. You turn into a real beautiful woman.

Um.... you don't know much about McKellen, do you?
posted by hippybear at 11:38 AM on January 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


I was hoping I could reference Bloodninja without someone pointing out his sexuality. That's all I wanted, man!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:39 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"and when they cut back to the studio, Ian was absolutely beaming, and gushed something like, "Oh, Elijiah! It's so good to see him...." before returning to the interview."

If he tries anything, Sam will kill him.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm not like a Blanchett fan or anything, but that scene where she contemplates taking the Ring and gets all swept up in it was pretty hot. I could go for some more of that.
posted by Eideteker at 11:46 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


How did the interviewer (and Sir Ian) not get the Galdalf/Magneto joke?

I always assumed it was something like "I played Gandalf and Magento, so when I say that being gay is okay you are required to agree (PS - I could kick Dumbledore's ass)"
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I saw Mike [Gambon] recently when he was doing a play in the West End and I asked if he gets mistaken for me. He said it happens all the time. But he never corrects them. He told me, “Oh, I just sign your name.”

I've heard a similar story that Ewan McGregor and Jude Law get confused by fans for one another often enough that they enjoy signing each others names.

I find this hilarious, and if I was famous enough to have people wanting my autograph, I would totally endeavor to befriend and an equally famous doppelgänger so we could fuck with people like this.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on January 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


It makes me wonder, in 30 years on Antiques Roadshow, how will the Gambon "Ian McKellen" signatures be valued?

"Well, it was well known that the two were often confused for each other, but you're lucky. The market for these has gone up lately, and I would safely put an auction value on this of $500. If it had been an actual Gambon-as-Gambon signature, much more common, you likely would only get $200 for it."
posted by hippybear at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So has no one posted this photo of young Ian? Looking at it kind of makes me wonder where I may have failed in my life choices.
posted by danny the boy at 12:49 PM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want everything in that photo
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Looking for pics of McKellan as a young man (1967) led me to find a great pic from last year of Alan Cumming and Sir McKellan in a hot tub.
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:56 PM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I ever meet Ian McKellen I'm going to pretend to confuse him for Michael Gambon and ask "Michael" to sign an autograph as Ian McKellen, because "I heard you do that all the time".
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:04 PM on January 13, 2011


some actors keep us guessing about their sexuality. As least with McKellen, there’s never been any mystery about the latter.

Except I remember the day he came out. So before that, there WAS mystery.
posted by grumblebee at 1:08 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sure hope Baby Balrog doesn't get to see this thread...
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:33 PM on January 13, 2011


Going back to the 1977 Hobbit, you cannot tell me Andy Serkis' Gollum voice was anywhere near as perfect for the role as Brother Theodore's was in that cartoon. "Baggins! We hates it! FOREVER!" is just. Fucking. chilling.
posted by grubi at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Well, it was well known that the two were often confused for each other, but you're lucky. The market for these has gone up lately, and I would safely put an auction value on this of $500. If it had been an actual Gambon-as-Gambon signature, much more common, you likely would only get $200 for it."

Back in the heyday of the alt.fan.pratchett newsgroup, pTerry was known to do so many signings that there was a running joke that unsigned copies of his books would be worth more than signed ones.

*sigh* I miss Usenet sometimes.
posted by kmz at 2:09 PM on January 13, 2011


I'm with the Empress. I came in here to say this interview made me like Ian McKellen even more but the interviewer so much less.

I'm with the Emperor. What is thy bidding my liege?
posted by ersatz at 2:16 PM on January 13, 2011


Going back to the 1977 Hobbit

Also, were those songs awesome or what? I was listening to the audiobook of The Hobbit recently, and the narrator's English folk tune versions didn't satisfy me the way the Rankin-Bass tunes did.

(And in their Return of the King, "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way"... priceless.)
posted by grubi at 2:30 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spitznagel is an ass. Is VF that hard up for content that it has him insulting all his interviewees for a few laughs/shekels? Oh what a world, what a world.
posted by Lynsey at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2011


Ber: As far as Cate Blanchett goes, well she is part of the White Council that succeeded in throwing Sauron out of Dol Goldur. There is even a reference in the Appendix that after the War of the Ring, Galadriel destroyed the fortress of Dol Goldur with the power of her ring. Now that would make a scene. Have an army of elves surround the dark towers, the ranks part and Cate walks out barefoot, with that sly little smile. She waves her hand and the whole thing collapses with a roar. I could see Jackson filming that.

I'm going to argue that just because he could, doesn't mean he should. The beauty of "There and Back Again" is that it's the story of a guy who is a good hobbit-hole away from being a complete bumpkin. He gets pulled into a world of monsters and ancient feuds as the brunt of a practical joke, and does the right thing largely because he has a good heart and complete ignorance of the shit he's in.

I've grown to wish that Tolkien had respected his own instincts that the appendices requested by the publisher were a distraction away from the focal point of The Hobbit and LotR, the hobbits. The Hobbit is, IMO, a better novel in structure and better material for a screenplay because it's so tightly focused on Bilbo Baggins and linear, in contrast to LotR which clumsily manages it's half-dozen different perspectives through entire chapters of stories told over bowls of pipeweed.

homunculus: What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex

This supports my theory that his elves live in a state of idealized Catholic grace.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:35 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This supports my theory that his elves live in a state of idealized Catholic grace.

Much of Tolkien was influenced by his Catholicism. It runs rampant throughout his writings. So much so that I took a college course which involved a heavy analysis of his writings through that lens. Everything from lembas being analogous to the Eucharist to Beorn being a symbol of the perfection of Creation before the Fall, etc etc.

An interesting factoid -- it was Tolkien who convinced C.S. Lewis of the validity of Christianity as a belief system during an afternoon now known as "The Long Walk". Of course, they knew each other well, and were involved in The Inklings together, a group which would get together to read works in progress to each other. The group also included Charles Williams, whose writings are very interesting mystical novels worth seeking out. Descent Into Hell has haunted me for over 20 years. I really should re-read it sometime.
posted by hippybear at 3:51 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear: I somehow doubt Jackson is going to spend much time having the viewer contemplate along with Bilbo that maybe all this wasn't such a good idea after all.

I find the climax of The Hobbit to be really interesting. Bilbo reacts with horror to Thorin's pride and greed and betrays him in an attempt to broker peace. When the goblins attack, Bilbo does a bit of fighting (with the help of the ring) but also a fair bit of hiding behind rocks. In the end, Bilbo is morally vindicated by Thorin's deathbed reconciliation, and gives up most of his treasure to keep the peace.

Much of Tolkien was influenced by his Catholicism.

I think it's a bit beyond "influence" myself. Catholic writers include the occasionally dirty and often sarcastic Giovanni Boccaccio after all.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:31 PM on January 13, 2011


Eideteker: ""And of course there's no sex in Middle Earth! They're British"

"Wanda, do you have any idea what it's like being English? Being so correct all the time, being so stifled by this dread of, of doing the wrong thing, of saying to someone "Are you married?" and hearing "My wife left me this morning," or saying, uh, "Do you have children?" and being told they all burned to death on Wednesday. You see, Wanda, we'll all terrified of embarrassment. That's why we're so... dead."
posted by bwg at 4:43 PM on January 13, 2011


"Other than using his staff as a flashlight, what exactly are his magical talents?"

I enjoyed that interview very much.

I don't get the Dumbledore comments above. You wish Gandalf was Dumbledore? What? Isn't that like wishing that these slippers were made of toast? (They're not.)
posted by sneebler at 5:54 PM on January 13, 2011


I don't understand the objection to this. Yes, it's stupid, we all noticed. But there's a place for that too. It's not like this was anybody's only or last chance to hear what Ian McKellen has to say; he must have done plenty of thoughtful and involved interviews. In any case, I have complete faith that if he were really bothered he would have told the interviewer to fuck off.

In fact the only thing that really bothered me about this was "very small and very discrete". I mean really?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:54 PM on January 13, 2011


I was hoping I could reference Bloodninja

I think the interviewer may be Bloodninja. Or a rhinoceros. All I know is I want a pizza.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:39 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'll have to be patient. You can't hurry good pizza.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on January 13, 2011


You wish Gandalf was Dumbledore? What?

I think he means he wishes Ian McKellan played Dumbledore in the movies. Me too, that's how I imagined Dumbledore when I read the books.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:12 PM on January 13, 2011


The Resonance, Artifice and (Possible) Enervation of Epic Fantasy
posted by Artw at 10:14 PM on January 13, 2011


"Other than using his staff as a flashlight, what exactly are his magical talents?"

Geez, I guess riding a Balrog to the very bowels of the earth, chasing it back up a mountain, and then finally beating it in melee combat with a lightning-enchanted sword just doesn't seem so magical these days.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 12:18 AM on January 14, 2011


He also does childrens parties.
posted by Artw at 1:16 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine, when posted to Afghanistan, drew Sir Ian's name when it came time for people in the unit to write to famous people and see if they got a reply.

Sir Ian sent signed LOTR photographs, wrote a well considered and lovely letter (I've seen it) and obviously put some thought in to what he was doing.

He is an extremely talented actor, but stuff like that underlines the fact he is also a rather nice bloke as well. Not a combination you are made aware of all that often.
posted by Megami at 1:43 AM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now I remember why I don't read Vanity Fair. What an annoying interviewer.
posted by birdwatcher at 9:04 AM on January 14, 2011


Stupid questions, maybe even 'insulting' questions, are the kind of questions you might ask someone after a long evening spent drinking. What is wrong with an interview that is like that? And besides, this only served as an opportunity for Ian to demonstrate that he, at least, is a gentleman. Such demonstrations are both pleasant, and instructive.
posted by Goofyy at 9:09 PM on January 15, 2011


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