McKellen finds his range in 'Hobbit'

Ian McKellen in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Ian McKellen in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

NEW YORK - There's an "F" word that causes Ian McKellen to take truly Shakespearean-calibre umbrage. That word is "franchise."

"It's not a franchise! They're films! This isn't X-Men," he shouted to a surprised questioner at the press conference launching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Peter Jackson's trilogy based on the first Middle Earth novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The burst of stentorian outrage actually drew laughs from fellow cast members Elijah Wood, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Andrew Serkis. But later, in a private interview with QMI Agency, the man who is once again playing the wizard Gandalf the Grey, admitted he was only half-joking.


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