Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of The Hobbit is finally on the right track, having received the long-awaited official greenlight back in October and two weeks later being confirmed to have its production remain where it belongs in New Zealand.

Since then, the news reports having been rolling in with The Hobbit updates and a plethora of casting announcements, including Cate Blanchett returning to the franchise as Galadriel. Now, believe it or not, we can also add Legolas to the list of characters not a part of The Hobbit novel who will play important roles in The Hobbit films.

Deadline has the exclusive which details that Orlando Bloom, who kick-started his career as the fan-favorite Orc-killing archer in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, is close to signing a deal with New Line to play Legolas yet again. Not only will he be making an appearance, but his role is described as being “more than a cameo” as Deadline explains.

Back in the day, the plan for The Hobbit was to make it a standalone movie with a follow-up film acting as a “bridge” between it and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This would’ve allowed for many of the characters we all know and love from the series to return. We even heard from actors including Viggo Mortensen and Dominic Monaghan that they’d love to come back and that they had heard rumblings about the possibility. Keep in mind, this was back when the plan was to have The Hobbit come out next month with the bridge film out in 2011. Things have changed a lot since then.

With Galadriel and Legolas returning to play alongside Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, this indicates that the screenplays are deviating from the novel in significant ways to help it connect with the Lord of the Rings films, still essentially acting as that  “bridge,” we had heard about long ago. If it works for the story, I’m all for it and it should generate a lot of excitement and familiarity for casual moviegoers.

This does make me wonder though if the script had always been written for these two elves to return. What if Bloom didn’t choose to come back? Would they recast? Are other characters like Aragorn in the running to return as well?

While Legolas would mark another returnee, key character actors Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis have yet to sign to reprise their roles of Gandalf, Lord Elrond and Gollum respectively. Expect more casting announcement soon, and maybe, some more surprises!

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Part 1 of The Hobbit opens in theaters on December 19, 2012, with part 2 arriving the following December.

Source: Deadline