McKellen back as Gandalf in Rings sequels

A day after castmate Elijah Wood was announced for The Hobbit – and a week after Cate Blanchett agreed to reprise her role of Galadriel – McKellen and Andy Serkis have signed on as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

And thespian McKellen couldn’t contain his excitement, taking to on Tuesday to state, “The deciding negotiation was not about money but about dates. Gandalf is needed on set over the next 18 months but with sizeable breaks when I can work on other projects.

“My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted. I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21, 2011.”

Martin Freeman joins the cast as Bilbo Baggins and reports suggest Orlando Bloom is in talks to reprise his role as elf Legolas.