There are times when an actor takes on a character so well that you find it hard imagining someone else playing the role (successfully). For me, that’s how it felt when I saw Ian McKellen in the role of Magneto in the first three X-Men movies. The charisma with which he took on the role was epic.
In a recent interview with People Magazine promoting his new film, Mr. Holmes, the actor revealed he almost made a different decision, which would have resulted in him not playing both Magneto and Gandalf (his other epic take on a character). According to him, he almost signed on to star in Mission: Impossible I, and that decision would (probably) have altered his career forever.
“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.
“Well, I couldn’t judge from reading just those scenes what the script was like. So I said no. And my agent said, “You can’t say no to working with Tom Cruise!” and I said, “I think I will. 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.”
And thus, the course of history was changed forever.
McKellen then went on to add, “Meanwhile, Mission Impossible was put off, put off, put off. And if I had decided to do that, I wouldn’t have been in X-Men and I wouldn’t have been in Lord of the Rings. It’s all about luck – being there at the right time and ready for it.”