Sir Ian McKellen has said he would be "disappointed" if he wasn't asked to play Gandalf in the film adaptation of JRR Tolkien's novel The Hobbit.

McKellen, who has appeared in the role in each of the three films from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, has said he is hoping to reprise the part, even though Peter Jackson will not be directing.

"If I am still functioning and working well, it is very likely I would be asked to do it," he told Reuters.

"I am glad to read that it is looking more and more likely.

"I would be disappointed if they didn't want to have the original Gandalf."

The 68-year-old added that original director Peter Jackson, who pulled out of the planned production due to a legal dispute with film studio New Line, had given his support if McKellen chose to appear in the prequel.

"When Peter announced he had withdrawn from The Hobbit, he sent me an email saying: 'Because I am not going to do it, it doesn't mean you have to do the same. Of course, you must play Gandalf whether I direct or not'."

15/10/2007 11:24:35