Ian McKellen is simply a brilliant veteran actor, and one of the most famous and iconic roles in his career is when he played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. If you notice his eyes in those movies there is so much emotion in them and he is truly an actor act with his eyes.
Check out this informative video essay from The Nerdwriter that takes a deep dive into McKellen’s performance and the things that he does with his eyes to act the character’s sentiments and emotions.
The video digs deep into McKellen’s role as Gandalf and notes that as the story’s moral center, it was up to Gandolf to make himself understood, and the eyes are the most distinctive features of doing that.
Sometimes in film we don’t really hear something until we see someone hearing it…when Frodo makes his momentous decision to take the ring to Mordor. I always tear up at this scene, but not when Frodo says his line, just after it. It’s the simple act of Gandolf closing his eyes that brings it home for me. The emotion is almost indescribable – a mix of love, fear, resignation, pride. …Really, putting it all into words defeats the purpose. It’s all the significance of that choice in a look.