Richard Harris, the actor who originated the role of Hogwarts' beloved dean, Professor Dumbledore, died of Hodgkin's disease last month.
Writing on his official Web site, McKellen confirmed he had been discussed for the part before Harris died, but did not say whether he had recently been approached by Warner Brothers or anyone else connected to the popular franchise.
McKellen also did not say whether he would consider such an offer.
In answer to a fan's plea that he continue Harris' legacy by taking over the role of Dumbledore, McKellen wrote:
"Richard Harris was a smashing young actor and had his own style subsequently, which was enviable. I met him 10 years ago at the rock 'n' roll hotel Sunset Marquis in L.A. He was in the bar, drinking soda with two miniature poodles at his feet. He was like a character in a Jacques Tati movie. When recently he criticized me and others for being passionless actors I supposed he might be a little upset that I had landed the superior wizard on screen.
"But acting isn't a competition of course. I still haven't seen the first H(arry) P(otter). Before Richard Harris died there was an enquiry from the Potter camp about filching Gandalf. The Grey or the White was not specified," McKellen said.
Harris appeared in last year's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and its sequel, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," due out this Friday. He died shortly before filming was set to begin on the third film based on the J.K. Rowling series. McKellen has completed filming the three films in the acclaimed "Lord of the Rings" films.
PIRATED POTTER MOVIE SHOWN ON WEB
Warner Brothers reportedly is outraged over unauthorized Internet screenings of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," its much-anticipated sequel to last year's blockbuster, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Both Warner Bros. and the Motion Picture Arts Association have sworn to take legal action against anyone pirating the movie.
"The illegal copying and distribution of movies is theft," the studio said in a statement. "Warner Bros. takes the threat of Internet piracy very seriously and employs all legal means to contain the unauthorized copying and distribution of our films on the Internet."
Days before the movie's official opening, a Web site called "uNDeR.THe.iNFLueNCe," posted a print of the film along with the statement: "Even here at UTi HQ we're getting excited over this one, the sequel to last year's Harry Potter film, direct from our supplier."
Ironically, the statement also appears to criticize bootleggers of Asian video discs, saying the quality of its own online download proves "the scene should look down on groups that have to rely on Asian supply."
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" opens in theaters Friday.
UNIVERSAL PONDERS '8 MILE 2'
The staggering success of Eminem's big-screen debut, "8 Mile," reportedly has studio bosses talking about a possible sequel.
The rapper's semi-autobiographical story earned $54.5 million in just three days last weekend, making it the fifth biggest opening of the year.
Word from the World Entertainment News Network is Universal is hoping the Detroit native will reprise his role as Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith in a follow-up.
WENN quotes president of Universal's marketing Adam Fogelson as saying: "I'm ecstatic, I'm euphoric. It's certainly not something that we would have predicted going in. There's no question that Eminem is a voice for a young audience but he's also a cultural force that I think everybody is aware of. I would be thrilled if we had a chance to work with Eminem again. It's entirely up to him as to what he wants to do. Clearly anyone who would bet against him doing anything would be making a horrible mistake, because he clearly has the guts."
EASTWOOD TO GET SAG LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Screen Actors Guild will bestow its coveted Life Achievement Award on actor-director Clint Eastwood at its ninth annual awards telecast March 9, 2003.
Eastwood will be the 39th recipient of SAG's top honor, which recognizes members for humanitarian accomplishment, as well as career achievement.
In making today's announcement, SAG President Melissa Gilbert said: "Clint Eastwood is truly a film icon, a celebrated star of international magnitude.
"His prolific career as an actor and filmmaker demonstrates a total command of the medium that has rightly earned him the admiration of his peers, the industry and the public," she said.
Gilbert added: "Over the past 42 years, he has starred in a remarkable 44 films and appeared in 55. As we announce this accolade from his fellow actors, Mr. Eastwood is directing his 24th motion picture, his 19th as producer. He has translated his civic concerns and business acumen into elected office and public service. Screen Actors Guild is honored by his acceptance of this award."
AFI TO NAME BEST FILM HEROES, VILLAINS
The American Film Institute has announced the subject of its next big TV special: "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes & Villains."
Set to air in June, the three-hour television program will name cinema's 50 greatest heroes and 50 greatest villains as part of its ongoing celebration of a century of American film.
Among the subjects of AFI's popular "100 Years..." programs have been the American film's top 100 passions, thrills, laughs, stars and movies.