“Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
Too true. And they often could also use a good bath and a shave. But that hasn’t stopped them from becoming icons of fantasy fiction — if anything, it just adds to the “air” of mystery surrounding them.
Here are two wizards who are currently working their spells on the small screen, and one who is soon to make his long-awaited return to the big screen.
Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander
Bruce Spence has quite a sci-fi/fantasy pedigree, having played the Mouth of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and the Trainman in The Matrix Revolutions. These days he’s playing the wizard Zedd in the syndicated fantasy drama Legend of the Seeker, which just closed out is about to close out its second season. The series is produced by Sam Raimi and based on Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series of books that began with his first novel, Wizard’s First Rule.
Zedd is raging magical firepower wrapped in a fun-loving but serious package — and he’s the grandfather of the Seeker himself, played by Craig Horner, so he’s a rare family wizard, too. Except for his penchant for strutting around nude …
Richard Wilson plays Camelot’s humble court physician in the BBC’s Merlin, which just started the U.S. run of its second season on Syfy after airing its first on NBC last summer. He’s down to earth but cloaked in mystery: it’s clear that Gaius once consorted with the warlocks and sorceresses now banned in the kingdom after a bloody purge by King Uther Pendragon — a purge Gaius participated in, from the sound of things.
He also has a past of some kind with Merlin’s mother, Hunith — and he frequently refers to the bumbling young proto-wizard he has taken in as his ward as the “son he never had.” Hmmm.
Gandalf the Grey
We all know Sir Ian McKellen is coming back as the wandering wizard of Middle-earth in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming two-part adaptation of The Hobbit. Hell, McKellen is virtually the only one talking about casting on the project.
We’re likely to see a grittier, more mischievious version of Gandalf the Grey this time around, one who swoops down into the Shire with 13 raucus dwarves in tow and rattles a homebody hobbit’s existence forever. He runs around Middle-earth hunting dragons, getting dirty, swinging a Goblin-slaying sword and smoking pipe-weed. Huzzah!
Known aliases: Mithrandir, Olórin, Stormcrow, Incánus, Tharkûn and Greyhame.