"When Peter announced he had withdrawn from The Hobbit, he sent me an e-mail saying 'Because I am not going to do it, it doesn't mean you have to do the same,'" McKellen said. "'Of course, you must play Gandalf whether I direct or not.'"
McKellen continued: "I am glad to read that it is looking more and more likely. ... I would be disappointed if they didn't want to have the original Gandalf. I suppose if I am still functioning and working well, it is very likely I would be asked to do it, and if I were, I would be very pleased to do it."