It’s hard to imagine “Lord of the Rings” without Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, or “X-Men” without his Magneto. McKellan is those characters. But if he had made a different decision back when, the English actor might not have played either role.
While promoting his new film “Mr. Holmes,” McKellen told People magazine that he almost starred opposite Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible II,” which would’ve changed much of his career as we know it.
“I got offered a part in ‘Mission: Impossible II’ with Tom Cruise, but they wouldn’t let me see the whole script because I might have spilled the beans,” the actor told the magazine.
He eventually turned down the part, since he was limited to reading only his character’s scenes — not enough to properly judge the script. The very next day, however, Bryan Singer offered McKellen the role of Magneto, shortly followed by Peter Jackson offering him Gandalf. “I said yes to both,” McKellen told People.
Then scheduling conflicts almost prevented McKellen from donning his iconic wizard staff and red mutant suit. When “X-Men” overran schedule, McKellen almost skipped out on Gandalf until Jackson and Singer worked with him to make both roles possible. “Meanwhile,” McKellen said, “‘Mission Impossible’ was put off, put off, put off. And if I had decided to do that, I wouldn’t have been in ‘X-Men’ and I wouldn’t have been in ‘Lord of the Rings.'” The actor says it was all just luck, but we think he was born to be a wizard and a mutant.