Sir Ian McKellen is open to playing Gandalf again - if he is still “alive” when the next film is made.

The 85-year-old actor portrayed the wizard in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and he confirmed he has heard of “stirrings in Tolkein land” following the news Peter Jackson will produce and Andy Serkis will direct a new spin-off movie in 2026, The Hunt for Gollum.

But though Ian is happy to consider returning to the role again, he insisted he hasn’t been approached yet.

Noting the long white beard he is currently sporting for his stage role as Falstaff in Player Kings he told the The Times newspaper’s Saturday Review: “And I haven’t shaved in months.

“But there is no script, there is no offer, there is no plan.”

Asked if he would be interested, he laughed: “If I’m alive.”

The veteran star admitted these days his own mortality is a huge factor in how he chooses his roles.

He said: “If you want to know that you are mortal you just have to look at your address book. And so when a script comes through, or the hint of an offer, you think, ‘This might be my last job. No. I’m not doing that.’”

“So if Falstaff is my last job, I’d better get it right, hadn’t I?”

New Line
New Line

READ MORE: Remakes and Sequels Better Than the Originals

Jackson, who directed the original Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, previously teased The Hunt For Gollum will “delve into” parts of the title character’s backstory and other elements of his “journey” not depicted in the original films.

Speaking about the project, which will see Serkis also reprise his role as Gollum, the producer told Deadline: “The Gollum/Sméagol character has always fascinated me because Gollum reflects the worst of human nature, whilst his Sméagol side is, arguably, quite sympathetic.”

“I think he connects with readers and film audiences alike, because there's a little bit of both of them in all of us. We really want to explore his backstory and delve into those parts of his journey we didn't have time to cover in the earlier films.”

Serkis has been a pioneer in motion capture and voice acting since taking on the role of Gollum, and Peter insisted there was no one better to direct the upcoming film.

He explained: "Andy was a joy to work with directing Second Unit on The Hobbit. He has the energy and imagination and, most importantly, an inherent understanding of the world and of the story that is needed to step back into Middle-earth. We have collaborated on eight films together and each time it has been a fantastic experience. There's no one on this Earth better equipped to tackle Gollum's story than Andy.”

25 Movies With Surprising Letterboxd Scores

Sometimes consensus about a work of art is not what you expect it to be, especially on a site like Letterboxd, which aggregates the movie ratings and reviews of thousands of users.