Peter (cont.): You know, he doesn’t arrive till late and he’s about to disappear for a huge part
of the film, until the very end, so…
Philippa: I think what I liked about what Ian did was that he gave Gandalf the White a sense of urgency and immediacy,
and he’s come back at the turn of the tide, and he took that as his cue: that he has so very little time to do so very
much in defence of Middle-earth against Sauron.
Peter: And here’s another aspect of Gandalf: the Manipulator; and what Ian wanted to do –. It was Ian’s
idea that he sit beside the throne, and he’s basically replaced Wormtongue, and he liked the idea [Philippa:
Mmm.] that Gandalf really is just another version of Wormtongue! [Fran laughs] He’s, you know…
Philippa: [shocked] Oooh! No! You can’t say that! He’s a persuader, not a manipulator.
Peter: Nah, well, whatever. [Philippa laughs] One person’s persuading is another person’s manipulation.
Philippa: Oh no! I’ll never be able to look at Gandalf the same way again!
Peter: Bernard was originally an actor we were considering for Gandalf, way back at the beginning; and we obviously
didn’t ultimately choose him for Gandalf, but we wanted to work with him, basically, and thought he’d be great
for Théoden. (beat) It’s a great example of just what John Rhys-Davies brings to these scenes, too; because,
you know, Gimli had nothing to do, which is, for an actor, an incredibly difficult thing: I mean, what did Gimli do?
Well, he just got to sit there and eat; except John somehow [laughs] always manages to steal the scene!
Philippa: He does steal the scene.
Peter: Without doing anything! Which is kind of a gift for a director, you know: when I’m cutting the scene
and I come across something like this – this little burp that he does – it just somehow adds something to the
Fran: [at same time as Peter] Well he’s irreverent…
Peter: – [?] what John’s doing.
Fran: … isn’t he? I mean, he undermines the, sort of…
Peter: The pompousness.
Fran: Yes, he does.
Peter: Yeah, yeah. (beat) [Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli enter the stables] This is a pick-up: when
they’re walking in the stable doors, we’re now jumped forward two years. They were walking across the courtyard
at Edoras on location; two years later, they walk into the stables in our pick-ups for a whole scene that we wrote after we
edited the film together. And we didn’t really have a strong enough reason for Gandalf to suddenly walk out of the story
– I mean, what we originally wrote and shot – so we sort of designed this scene as a way of trying to explain
his departure, trying to give Aragorn a mission – because basically, you know, we wanted Aragorn to definitely have
a rôle to play that the audience were very much aware of, so it is: protect the people of Rohan – and then we also just
snuck in this very nice little tease, where Gandalf says those lines: “Look for my coming on the fifth day, at dawn
on the fifth day”, and it was a sense that Gandalf has an agenda that we don’ know about.
Peter: But it’s obviously something we use later to pay off.
Philippa: Unfortunately, in the original Japanese translation they actually had Gandalf saying: “Look for
me on the fifth day. I will return with Éomer”! [laughs]
Peter: Oh, did they?
Philippa: [laughing] Yes!
Peter: They gave it away!
Philippa: Yeah, well I think they just didn’t understand what we were trying to do.
Philippa: We were too obscure.
Peter: We changed some of the motivations round in this area of the story, because Aragorn is very enthusiastic
about going to Helm’s Deep in the book, except here we made Helm’s Deep kind of like a bad strategic move.