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Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen on the set of The Hobbit

See this? Gandalf in shades? That’s got to be a Friday tonic for you, right there. And do you know who took the photograph? Peter flipping Jackson, that’s who.

This, dear friends, is Sir Ian McKellen watching some rushes from the filming of The Hobbit, the original Middle Earth tale by JRR Tolkein, which is now being made into a kind of prequel to the Lord of the Rings films.*

Sir Ian is of course reprising his role as Gandalf, with The Office star Martin Freeman playing the actual hobbit in the title, namely Bilbo Baggins.

This shot was put up on Sir Ian’s Flickr feed yesterday, together with an explanatory caption from Sir Ian himself, which says: “THE HOBBIT is being filmed in 3D. Even wizards have to wear the glasses. Snapped by Peter Jackson in Wellington, 2011.”

He also took the time this week to explain where things are, currently, with the production of the film. In a surprisingly lengthy blog which starts with the stark sentence “Martin Freeman has left The Hobbit,” he explains that the production has slowed down a bit so that Martin can reprise his role as Doctor Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the overbearing supersleuth.

But the best bit of the blog is Sir Ian’s description of the fleeting role that Flight Of The Conchords star Bret McKenzie had in the first Lord of the Rings film.

He said; “Last time, he was an extra at Rivendell… Under a tree at the Council of Elrond, he silently witnessed the forming of the Fellowship. Wordless maybe but not unnoticed by fans of the beautiful, who gave him the acronym F.I.G.W.I.T. (“Frodo Is Great! Who Is That?”) I confess Gandalf didn’t take much notice, distracted by the main action that involved all the main characters.”

“I only joined Bret’s fan-base, when he joined up with Jemaine Clement in their hilarious tv series Flight of the Conchords. Now he is briefly back in Rivendell as a senior official at Elrond’s Court and he has a name “Lindir”, which means “singer”. Tolkien has plenty of songs in The Hobbit but the script doesn’t indicate that Lindir will be singing any of them. If, as he promises, Bret makes a Conchord feature film ere long, I shall angle for a non-speaking part as BIGWIT. (“Bret Is…” etc.)”

* Sorry, you didn’t really need any of that explaining, did you…

Had you spotted Bret? Be honest. Tell us here.

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By Fraser McAlpine