Originally Posted by Mrs Vimes
Appearing in a hugely successful movie doesn't necessarily make an actor a huge draw though, especially when it's a real "brand" film. Neither Elijah Wood nor Viggo Mortensen are huge draws despite playing lead characters in the LoTR trilogy, and I don't think that anyone sees Martin Freeman as a huge draw after The Hobbit. Same for the three main Harry Potter actors. Jennifer Lawrence is only considered a huge draw now that she's proven to have had success outside of the Hunger Games franchise.
Yes, but we're talking about The X-Men--and an audience built on his shoulders. Besides, Ian McKellan is not only known for The Hobbit.
His career is expansive and The Hobbit
is but one of his recent successes; he's had a nice streak of hits including the X-Men
series (a trilogy he also received top billing for). He's more recognizable than he was in 2000, because he's been consistent.
In Hollywood, you're only as good as your last film, and he's considered "very good" right now. He's definitely fresh in the memories of casual moviegoers due to the high profile/blockbuster caliber of his latest works.