Gandalf and The Wizard of New Zealand
In fact, it was the wizardly advice from one Kiwi that really seemed to capture the interest of McKellen, aka Gandalf. Christchurch, the South Island's 'Garden City', has had its own resident wizard for so long that he's classed as one of the city's most famous 'attractions' and has been registered by the local Robert McDougall Art Gallery as a 'Living Work of Art'.
Strolling through Cathedral Square on a rare day off from filming, McKellen had a chance encounter with Christchurch's Wizard, himself a long-time fan of Tolkien's epic tale. Their conversation, typical of two such eminent men of magic, covered such diverse topics as honour, acting, gimmickry, the subjectivity of reality, humour and postmodernism, wizards as sex objects, Anglo-Saxon mythology and Merlin, shaman and priests, agriculture and emasculation, Victorian values, the monarchy and disappearing in puffs of smoke.
Born in London in 1932 as Ian Brackenbury Channell, Christchurch's Wizard has long since 'given up being an Ian', instead spending his time haranguing crowds on weekdays about his favourite causes. His inverted world map places New Zealand in its rightful place (at the top) and his colourful theories such as 'The History of Philosophies' and 'The Philosophy of Histories' have been amusing if not totally confusing his audiences since 1974. The Wizard has represented New Zealand officially offshore, resplendent in his ubiquitous cloak and hat and travelling on a specially approved passport in the name of 'The Wizard of New Zealand'.
After their wizardly chat, Gandalf and The Wizard of New Zealand went their separate ways – theories on Cosmology and busy film schedules awaited. Just another day in the life of the men of magic, really.