The Hobbit is officially on safe ground after being mixed up in MGM’s protracted financial ordeal. The long-awaited project received the official green light back in October and from then on actors have been joining the cast left, right and center.

Today comes news of more actors joining The Hobbit cast, some of whom you’ll be familiar with – from both in and outside of the Lord of the Rings universe – and some you most likely won’t be familiar with it at all.

Warner Bros./New Line Cinema have announced via press release that well known actors Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy (formerly Doctor Who himself), Mikael Persbrandt (Everlasting Moments, Day and Night) and Ken Stott (Rebus) have joined The Hobbit cast. Blanchett will reprise her role from the LOTR trilogy as Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien; McCoy will play the wizard Radagast the Brown; Persbrandt will play the shape-shifter (or “skin-changer”) Beorn; and Stott will play the role of the dwarf Balin.

In addition to those, three more actors have joined the cast and you may not be familiar with them: Ryan Gage (Outlaw), Jed Brophy (LOTR, District 9) and William Kircher (Out of the Blue). Gage will play Drogo Baggins, the father of Frodo; Brophy will play the dwarf Noli; and finally Kircher will take on the role of the dwarf Bifur, rounding out the Company of Dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield.

To help you keep track, here’s the list of which actors are going to be portraying which of the 13 different dwarves:

  • “Thorin Oakenshield” – Richard Armitage
  • “Lord Balin” – Ken Stott
  • “Nori” – Jed Brophy
  • “Bifur” – William Kircher
  • “Bofur” – James Nesbitt
  • “Ori” – Adam Brown
  • “Kili” – Aidan Turner
  • “Fili” – Rob Kazinsky
  • “Dwalin” – Graham McTavish
  • “Oin” – John Callen
  • “Bombur” – Stephen Hunter
  • “Dori” – Mark Hadlow
  • “Gloin” – Peter Hambleton

It seems that the most important roles in The Hobbit have been cast: Bilbo Baggins (being played by Martin Freeman) and the Company of Dwarves who tag along with the beloved titular Hobbit on his epic, yet intimate, journey. There doesn’t seem to be much reason for complaints regarding who has been cast so far.

One interesting point to be brought up with regards to this latest slate of casting additions is Blanchett returning as Galadriel. The fact that they’re putting her in the film despite her not being part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original novel (in fact with the exception of Lobelia, there are no female characters at all in The Hobbit novel) suggests that they’re going to be diverging from the source material at least somewhat.

Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Now while that might anger the Tolkien purists out there, sometimes diverging from the source material makes for a better film. Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy showed that you can make changes to the story or emphasize aspects that were minor in the source material while still paying deep respect to it.

This certainly won’t be the last slate of Hobbit casting additions we’ll hear about – amongst others we’re still waiting on the official announcement of Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis reprising their roles as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively (I would be shocked if they didn’t return). However, seven new cast members is plenty to spark discussion for the time being.

The Hobbit will shoot using 3D RED EPIC digital cameras to help provide the best possible 3D experience. There’s no exact date for the start shooting yet, but we do know it will be some time early next year and that both parts will be shot back-to-back in New Zealand.

Part 1 of The Hobbit is already set to hit theaters on December 19th, 2012, with Part 2 following a year later in December, 2013.