Peter Jackson has, at long last, made an official announcement about who will appear in The Hobbit. He has confirmed Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, taking over the role originated by Ian Holm in The Lord of the Rings. A great many other names were released as well, almost all of whom make up the large company of Dwarves that hires Bilbo to be their ‘burgler’ before setting out to kill the dragon Smaug and recover the dwarven treasure the dragon uses as a bed. All the names are after the break.
Complementing Mr. Freeman are: Richard Armitage (MI-5, Captain America) as Thorin Oakenshield; Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) as Kili and Fili; Graham McTavish (Secretariat) as Dwalin; John Callen as Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) as Bombur; and Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori and Peter Hambleton (The Strip) as Gloin.
More info to come in the next few minutes. Mr. Jackson is also expected to confirm the return of Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Andy Serkis as Gollum, and announce roles for Jimmy Nebitt and David Tennant as well. Other actors mentioned by Deadline as possibles are Stephen Fry, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner as a possible Elf King and Bill Nighy as a potential voice for Smaug the Dragon.
So, is this announcement a way to combat the rather glum news that has plagued the production of The Hobbit in the past few weeks. While the two films were finally greenlit a week ago (huzzah!) labor disputes in New Zealand and Australia cast a pall over the production. While those disputes have been resolved (read: dropped) they were enough to worry Warner Bros. that New Zealand might not be the place to shoot these movies after all. We’re still waiting to hear if the production will move, with the Leavesden Studios (home of Harry Potter) as one likely destination.