Veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen offered to walk away from his role in the Hobbit movies on the first day of shooting.

The British star headed to New Zealand to film his role as Gandalf, and he has previously told how he wanted to quit after a series of delays kept the project in production for five years.

He has now revealed his frustration dated back to his first day on set, when he had to act alone in a miniature house and pretend he was in a packed room for a dinner party scene.

Images of his co-stars were displayed around the set, while the real actors recited their lines in a nearby room for scenes that would be spliced together with McKellen's in the editing room.


McKellen was left so baffled by the set-up that he offered to quit.

He tells Seven magazine: "This is my first day of shooting. I don't know who they are. I can't hear what's being said. I don't know who's speaking to me. I don't know what they're looking at. I'm acting in a vacuum.''

McKellen says the frustrating scene left him in floods of tears and on the verge of a major temper tantrum: "I cried, actually. I cried. Then I said out loud, 'This is not why I became an actor'.

"Unfortunately the microphone was on and the whole studio heard."

McKellen repeats his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, due for release on December 12.


Read the full interview with McKellen in TimeOut on Thursday.