Sir Ian McKellen nearly missed out on the role of Gandalf in 'The Lord of the Rings'.

The legendary actor has revealed that he was not the first choice to play the wizard in the fantasy franchise and only landed the part because Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Sean Connery rejected the opportunity.

Ian told Variety: "I don't think you're ever the first choice, I certainly wasn't the first choice for Gandalf.

"Tony Hopkins turned it down. Sean Connery certainly did. They're all coming out of the woodwork now, and I hope they feel silly."

McKellen's latest role is the acerbic theatre reviewer Jimmy Erskine in 'The Critic' and the six-time Olivier Award winner relished playing an antagonistic character.

The 84-year-old star said: "Often the devil has the best tunes and the best lines, and it's fun to play an outrageous man who clearly has some emotional problems."

'The Critic' premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday (07.09.23) and Ian is hopeful that a studio will acquire the picture – which also features Gemma Arterton and Mark Strong.

The 'X-Men' actor said: "It was an intriguing script, tending toward melodrama. If the audience doesn't believe in what we're doing, then they might find some of the action a bit overwrought. It was a tricky balance to strike."

McKellen's celebrated career has spanned over six decades but he does not have a technique to prepare himself for roles on both screen and stage.

He explained: "I didn't go to drama school. I've often wished that I did have a foolproof approach to how to prepare. Each play or movie stands by itself for me.

"And every time I begin with this terror of just, 'Here we go again, making the same mistakes.'"