'The Hobbit' star Ian McKellen is to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster.
McKellen whose depiction of Gandalf in the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy thrilled audiences, will be made a doctor of letters for services to acting.
The 74-year-old will reprise the role in the forthcoming 'The Hobbit' prequel, which also stars University of Ulster chancellor and fellow actor James Nesbitt as Bofur the dwarf.
The world premiere takes place in New Zealand this week before it opens in the UK on December 12.
McKellen will deliver the chancellor’s annual lecture at the university’s Magee campus in Derry in February, following speakers including Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
University pro-vice chancellor Professor Deidre Heenan said: “The university is delighted to recognise an actor of Sir Ian’s standing with an honorary doctorate and that he has also agreed to deliver next year’s Chancellor’s lecture.”
McKellen’s work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction and he has many television, film and stage appearances to his credit.
He is possibly best known for roles including Gandalf and his part as villain Magneto in 'The X Men'. He played Richard III for the National Theatre and made a surprise appearance as a con artist in ITV’s Coronation Street.
Prof Heenan added: “It is also wonderful for Derry-Londonderry as the 2013 City of Culture that this event is also coming for the first time to Magee and it will no doubt be a highlight for the city and for the university.”