While they still seem like a long ways off, Guillermo Del Toro is hard at work on a pair of films based on The Hobbit. They haven’t officially cast anyone for the films yet, though Ian McKellen is very clearly on board. But what about that other wizard, Saruman?
Del Toro and Peter Jackson have been pretty clear that the way they’re going to spread the story out over two films is by adding in the scenes that Tolkien alluded to in the story but skipped over; specifically, Gandalf’s meetings with the White Council (composed of Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond, Galadriel, and Cirdan) and the Council’s battle with Sauron in Dol Guldur.
I’m of the mind that The Hobbit could easily just be one film that focuses on the story in the book, even if I do like the idea of seeing the White Council and its battle with Sauron. But if that’s the way Del Toro and Peter Jackson want to do it, that’s their prerogative.
McKellen can probably reprise his role without looking too old, and Cate Blanchett (Galadriel) and Hugo Weaving (Elrond) are fine. But what about Saruman? The recently-knighted Christopher Lee is now 87 and has said he doesn’t think he can make the flights to New Zealand anymore. That doesn’t rule him out if they can film his scenes closer to home, but it raises the question: who would you cast as Saruman if you had to replace Lee?
I hadn’t thought about it much, but after seeing an ad for The Box last night it hit me like a lightning bolt: Frank Langella. The guy has practically the same voice, n0se, and bone structure as Lee, and both of them were actors that someone took one look at and said, “That’s my Dracula.”
Plus, Frank Langella has played Skeletor, and the idea of a degree of separation between my love of the Masters of the Universe toyline and my love of The Lord of the Rings nearly makes my brain explode.