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, leader of the Dwarves, whose grandfather ruled the Lonely Mountain settlement destroyed by Smaug.
- Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) as Kili and Fili, nephews of Thorin.
- Graham McTavish (Secretariat) as Dwalin, blue-bearded, first to arrive at the home of Bilbo Baggins.
- John Callen as Oin, skillful fire-maker. Brother of Gloin.
- Stephen Hunter (All Saints) as Bombur, the fat, sleepy and slow member of Thorin’s company.
- Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori, strongest of the Dwarves, who carries Bilbo on his back at one point.
- Peter Hambleton (The Strip) as Gloin, brother of Oin, initially suspicious of Bilbo’s worth, but eventually convinced. Father of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.
More info to come in the coming hours. That’s only eight Dwarves, so we need five more names to make up the film’s company of thirteen.
Mr. Jackson is also expected to confirm the return of Ian McKellan as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum. He may announce roles for Jimmy Nesbitt and David Tennant (would he be Bard?) as well.
Other actors mentioned by Deadline as possibles are Stephen Fry, Saoirse Ronan, 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.
And, if you’re wondering about the justification for some of these decisions, Peter Jackson has spoken about many of the actors. Here are his comments:
Despite the various rumours and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us… There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.
Richard [Armitage] is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.
Rob [Kazinsky] is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him. I’m thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter and I’m looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding Goblins … Aidan [Turner] is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I’m sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kili.
Graham [McTavish] is a terrific actor, with a great depth of experience, which I know he will bring to the role of Dwalin. I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects, he is a fantastic actor…I am also proud to annouce the casting of New Zealand actors as Peter Hambleton, John Callen and Stephen Hunter. Fran and I know that they will bring great depth and talent to our Company of Dwarves.