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How Tom Cruise nearly prevented Ian McKellen from taking the roles of Gandalf and Magneto

How Tom Cruise nearly prevented Ian McKellen from taking the roles of Gandalf and Magneto

Ian McKellen is real glad he was not allowed to read the entire script of Mission Impossible II more than 15 years ago.

If he had been able to and liked it, he might have agreed to be in the movie.

That normally would have been a good thing but it would have left him unavailable to accept his iconic roles of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises and Magneto in the X-Men movies.

‘I got offered a part in Mission: Impossible II with Tom Cruise, but they wouldn’t let me see the whole script because I might have spilled the beans. I only got my scenes,’ McKellen tells People.com.

‘Well, I couldn’t judge from reading just those scenes what the script was like. So I said no. And my agent said, “You cant say no to working with Tom Cruise!” and I said, “I think I will.”‘

It’s a good thing he did.

‘The next day, Bryan Singer asked me to play Magneto and then Peter Jackson asked me to play Gandalf, and I said yes to both.’

Since then, McKellen has appeared as Magneto in four X-Men movies and as Gandalf in the three Lord of the Rings films and the three installments The Hobbit. He further padded his wallet by voicing Gandalf in numerous video games.

‘You can’t prepare for luck,’ McKellen says. ‘I’ve learned that you’ve got to be ready for the luck when it arrives, but you’re going to need the luck.’

But the Mission Impossible franchise has not worked out so badly for Cruise.

The Mission Impossible movies have been the only franchise of Tom Cruise’s career – so far – and have all been box office hits.

The fifth MI film, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, hits theaters next week.