Ben Coyles, a 22-year-old music student, was out celebrating his birthday on the streets of Bristol last week when the planets perfectly aligned and he ran into Sir Ian.
The 83-year-old acting legend famously portrayed the wizard in Peter Jackson’s hit trilogy of film adaptations, and later reprised the role for the director’s Hobbit trilogy.
Sir Ian happened to be in the city as part of the touring production of the pantomime Mother Goose.
“So, it was really bizarre, it was my 22nd birthday, and we were on a pub crawl,” Ben recalled to the Bristol Post.
“Me and all my mates were walking down the street and I heard behind me ‘do you want to meet the real Gandalf?’. I didn’t recognise him immediately then I was like ‘OH MY GOD IT’S SIR IAN MCKELLEN!’”
The serendipitous moment on the city’s Corn Street was captured on video by one of the birthday boy’s friends.
“Everybody said ‘what on earth is going on?!’ He asked me how old I was and said ‘happy birthday’ and shook my hand,” he added.
“I was flabbergasted, I had no idea what to do or say. We had zero idea that he was walking down that street. If I was 10 to 20 metres ahead of him it wouldn’t have happened, the planets aligned.
“He’s a really lovely sound bloke, an excellent guy, nice, down to earth and humble and I’d like to buy him a drink.”