Sir Ian McKellen will play Gandalf in The Hobbit.

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The Oscar-nominated British actor is to reprise his role from the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the latest film adaptation of a JRR Tolkien novel.

Last week, it was confirmed Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro would direct the film, which will be shot in New Zealand.

He said: “I have spoken to Guillermo this week. I am going to be playing Gandalf, but he’s only getting around to doing the script in about six weeks when he’s finished Hellboy 2.

“Obviously I’ve read The Hobbit so I have a good idea of what the story will be, but Del Toro hasn’t got down to working on it in any detail, at the moment.”

The Hobbit will be split into two separate films, planned for 2010 and 2011. Andy Serkis is also rumoured to reprise his role as Gollum in the films.