Given the tumultuous and long-winded nature of pre-production on the two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, it’s to be expected that fans may be a bit antsy about news that suggests there’s even the slightest bit of trouble going on with the actual production of director Peter Jackson’s new project.

Such a piece of news popped up over the weekend with word that actor Rob Kazinsky is officially no longer onboard to appear in the films as Fili – one of the thirteen dwarves that accompanies a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) on an unexpected adventure in Middle-Earth.

Jackson broke the news himself, and posted the following on Facebook:

I am sad to report that Rob Kazinsky, who was cast in the role of Fili, is having to leave “The Hobbit” and return home, for personal reasons.  Rob has been terrific to work with and his enthusiasm and infectious sense of humour will be missed by all of us.

I should say that Rob’s departure will not affect ongoing filming of “The Hobbit”, nor will it impact work done to date, as we had yet to film much of Fili’s storyline. At the moment we are shooting scenes featuring Bilbo without the Dwarves, which will give us time to find a new Fili. I’ll keep everyone posted with updates as they come.

It’s generally not considered a good thing when an actor leaves a project just over a month after the start of shooting, but sometimes it works out for the best. Several fans have already cited Stuart Townsend’s departure from Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy early on in production – and his subsequent replacement by Viggo Mortensen – as being a good example of how events like this can be for the best. The role of Fili is also nowhere near as pivotal to The Hobbit as Aragorn was to LotR – so that’s all the reason more to not worry about this change-up.

Jackson has so far done an excellent job of keeping fans up to date on The Hobbit – be it his discussion about shooting the films at a higher frame rate, confirming Ian Holm’s involvement, or releasing this great behind-the-scenes video that offers a look at production on the Hobbit pics. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on what the director says (or doesn’t) in the future.

The Hobbit: Part 1 arrives in theaters in December 2012, followed by Part 2 in December 2013.

Source: Peter Jackson