The Many Faces Of Sir Ian McKellen (+Prize!)

Contributing Writer; South Africa
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I'll be stepping in for my colleague Ard Vijn this week, in an effort to get a fix for my Hobbit habit. Brace for bombastics!

Smaug was believed to be the last great fire-drake of the North. If others remain they will surely be drawn out by the pungent perfume of gold currently emanating from The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (TH:TBOTFA). Though that's not the smell of my gold, mind you, because for some Sauronic reason living in the USA means having to wait a WEEK longer than France, or Peru, or Siberia, or South Africa???!!! Now I "have" to go and watch the entire trilogy back-to-back in an awesome theater with awesome people next Monday, because it's two whole days earlier than the official release (also likely the last chance to catch An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug on the big screen). Forty-eight preciously fewer hours to endure the risk of random early death before seeing it through - the eternal purgatory of only getting there, and never back again.   

So to pass some time and help me not fret the fear of Morgoth's malevolent dice, let's play Many Faces Of... Sir Ian Murray McKellen, Order of the Companions of Honour, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Wielder of the Flame of Arno. 

Born 25 May 1939, he is one of the Maiar; called Ol√≥rin among the Valar, Mithrandir by the Elves, and Gandalf by Men. He is the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics' Choice Awards. He has also received two Academy Award nominations, four BAFTA nominations and five Emmy Award nominations. 

Gandalf's work spans many mediums, genres, and decades; from Shakespeare to modern theatre, from science fiction TV to a Hitler TV movie to blockbusting superhero cinema, and of course documentary - who will ever forget his starring role in Sir Peter Jackson's groundbreaking  reality series about life in Middle-earth. It's hard to remember now, 15 years and a cultural generation later, just how misunderstood wizards and whatnot were before Gandalf came into our lives, transforming caricature into character. In his times of vagabond absence we settled for charlatan fill-ins; Duck Dynasty, Santa, Dumbledo- well no, Dumbledore was legit. No such settling now, however, for the Grey Pilgrim is once more wading into our lives; to show yet again that the fantastical Istari are Freudianly human, that fairy-stories are very serious business, and that McKellen is in fact a wizard - the wizard - the Wonderful Wizard of NZ! 

In Sir McKellen's wake the wave of whimsy always crashes, and fantasy's frivolous foam vanishes into fizzle, revealing reality's gravity and grandeur for Gandalf-guided contemplation. 

Herewith then a Many Faces Of that I hope will challenge, intrigue, and perhaps humour. The gallery is substantially larger than usual thanks to my generous gift for fellow Tolkienistas and X-Menophiles; inclusion of almost every McKellen film in each of his two major character franchises, grouped by series but scrambled in order. Maybe tricksy... maybe not. Tricksier will be his early productions, sometimes rather obscure, which I've included to represent his youth (when most of his work was in live theater). Also there's one music video just too good not to share. 

So there you have it - plenty of riddles, plenty of clues.

The first person to get them all right gets one ticket to TH:TBOTFA on me for being fucking awesome (your choice of format).

Sir Gandalf McKellen

(this is picture 0 - the quiz follows)

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