People say to me, ‘Don’t you wish you’d played Dumbledore?’ I say no! I played Gandalf! The original. There was a question as to whether I might take over from Richard Harris but seeing as one of the last things he did publicly was say what a dreadful actor he thought I was, it would not have been appropriate for me to take over his part. It would have been unfair.That sounds like a reasonable response to me. Though with the recent revelations about Dumbledore’s sexual preferences, perhaps Sir Ian would have been the best choice after all. (Sorry, couldn’t resist teasing.)
The rest of the article is also well worth reading, ranging, inter alia, from Tolkien to Rowling to Pullman (McKellen is the voice of Iorek Byrnison in the film adaptation of The Golden Compass, debuting next week). How I wish I could see his King Lear! He was brilliant in the 1995 film adapation of Richard III.