Ian McKellen has said felt like he was returning home when he started shooting 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'.
The actor reprised his role as Gandalf the wizard from Peter Jackson's award-winning 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy in the prequel film and he was delighted to return to New Zealand where the film was made.
Speaking at the film's royal UK premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London last night, he said: "It was like going back home, really. It was more of the same, which is what was required, but it wasn't boring. I mean, a whole new set of circumstances and a new Bilbo [Baggins] to play with in Martin Freeman, and all those 13 dwarves, and a new aspect of the story."
The 73-year-old actor most enjoyed the slight change in his character from the original three films as in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' he plays the more mischievous Gandalf the Grey, compared to the wiser Gandalf the White in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.
He quipped: "Of the two Gandalfs, he's my man!"
The royal premiere - attended by Prince William - was the 65th royal film performance in aid of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF), which supports industry workers in times of hardship.
Other stars from the film who braved freezing temperatures to walk a special green carpet at the glitzy event included Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and James Nesbitt as well as director Peter Jackson.
[comment]See our live blog coverage from last night's premiere here.[/comment]