Update: Ian McKellen was a guest on the UK’s Channel 4 program The Paul O’Grady Show and he confirmed several things [via TheOneRing.net]:
He has received ‘both’ scripts. Original LOTR cast members will be returning. He has signed the declaration that he will not talk to friends, family or even his agent about the script! He does not know who is cast as Bilbo, but believes he will be an English actor.
Original article–posted on 10/13/2009–follows below
While at the San Debastian Film Festival picking up a lifetime achievement award, Empire Magazine interviewed Ian McKellen and they discussed the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit, as well as his possible involvement in the proposed ‘Magneto’ film X-Men Origins: Magneto from MGM. Here’s what he had to say about The Hobbit, which he expects will begin shooting next March or April:
“The scripts for the two films will be delivered very soon,” he revealed. “Then they’ll be budgeted, and then they’ll be cast. And they’ll be going when they’ve always said they would be, which is next spring – March or April. Guillermo even told me at one point, ‘We’re going to film for 383 days.’ He’s got that artistic autism! Jackson’s the same; they’re very, very, very alike. They also very different, but they’ve so much in common. They both can’t stand Hollywood and have wonderful imaginations, and they’re both obsessed with gore and fantasy. Both of them laugh a great deal. Guillermo’s one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met. His English vocabulary is way superior to mine!”
McKellen had little to offer in terms of talk about X-Men Origins: Magneto, but he did offer the following:
“There’s meant to be a Magneto script floating around, but I’ve not read it, so I suspect it wouldn’t involve me,” he said. “I think it would be about the younger Magneto, and the most I could hope for would be to top and tail that. They can’t have someone whose face is as lined as mine any longer!”