NEW YORK (AP) - Ian McKellen is returning to Middle Earth.
The 71-year-old actor will reprise his role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson's two-part blockbuster "The Hobbit." McKellen confirmed his casting on his website Tuesday.
McKellen wrote that his "worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted." Production is to begin in New Zealand in February.
Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novel "The Hobbit," the two films follow the first adventures in Middle Earth, predating Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Also returning for "The Hobbit" are Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis.
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