'The Hobbit' Will Start Filming This March

Among the issues that have plagued development of The Hobbit in recent memory: financing troubles due to studio bankruptcy; a major directorial change after years of delays; actors boycotting the production; a thankfully avoided location change from New Zealand; the firey destruction of one of Peter Jackson's workshops; and most recently, a perforated ulcer that cost the director a trip to the hospital and the film its February start date.

It's with all this in mind that it gives me great pleasure to announce that finally, at long last, cameras are set to begin rolling on The Hobbit in March. (Rejoice.) Read some quick, hopeful words from director Peter Jackson, along with a full list of the confirmed cast, after the break.

Many wondered whether Peter Jackson's recent health troubles would cost the films their planned December 2012/2013 release dates, but fear not. His surgery may have caused "a slight delay" (as it was officially referred) in the start of filming, but he's out of the hospital and recovering at home. The new start date is March 21.

The press release reads:

This date has been chosen following practical considerations of the filming schedule requirements, actor availability and the NZ seasons. Shooting will take place at Stone Street Studios in Miramar and on location around New Zealand.

Peter Jackson didn't have much to say in the announcement, but it was nice to hear from him nonetheless.

"Despite some delays we are fully back on track and very excited to get started."

A genuine sign of optimism, or a publicity-conscious effort to maintain the illusion of sanity?

With all the frustrations that Jackson has been forced to contend with throughout this ordeal, it would be hard to blame him for collapsing under the pressure. But since it's the Lord of the Rings legacy at stake here, let's go ahead and assume that he's as mentally stable as he's ever been and, come time to film both parts of The Hobbit, his enthusiasm for the project won't have diminished. Best of luck, Jackson!

The Hobbit stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Reprising their roles are Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett. The rest of the confirmed cast includes:

  • 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.
  • James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday, Millions) as Bofur, "a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf."
  • Adam Brown as Ori, "another of the Dwarf Company which sets out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the infamous dragon, Smaug."
  • 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.
  • Ken Stott (Charlie Wilson's War) is the Dwarf Lord Balin
  • Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who) is the wizard Radagast the Brown
  • Mikael Persbrandt (Day and Night) is Beorn, an enormous shape-shifter who can take the form of a bear
  • Jed Brophy (The Lord of the Rings) is the dwarf Nori
  • William Kircher is the dwarf Bifur