Tolkien fans around the world are jumping for joy. Not only has Peter Jackson (the true king of Lord of the Rings) returned to direct the prequel film The Hobbit, but a bunch of LOTR fan-favorites are also returning to the film (including Hugo Weaving and Ian Holm).

Now, as if there wasn’t enough to look forward to, we’ve learned that none other than beloved UK actor, writer, and Twitter superstar Stephen Fry has joined the cast.

In a post on his official Facebook page (via IndieWire), Peter Jackson announced that Fry was joining the cast as The Master of Laketown. In the novel, Laketown – also know as Esgaroth – is a city in Middle Earth that is (SPOILER) destroyed by the dragon Smaug.

The Master of Laketown is prone to greediness and cowardice, but he’s also a shrewd leader. Plot-wise, he is a somewhat minor character in The Hobbit, but I suspect it is a role that Fry could flesh out wonderfully. Then again, I tend to think adding Stephen Fry to anything makes it better.

Jackson also announced two other roles in his Facebook post. Quoting from the announcement:

The Master’s conniving civil servant, Alfrid will be played by Ryan Gage. Ryan is a great young actor who we originally cast in a small role, but we liked him so much, we promoted him to the much larger Alfrid part. Last, and certainly not least, is Conan Stevens, who will be playing an Orc called Azog (Orcs are never called Roger or Dennis for some strange reason).

As an aside, isn’t it awesome how Jackson keeps connected with his fans via Facebook? He clearly understands how important these films are to so many people, and it’s great to see him constantly posting cool news or behind-the-scenes footage online. It’s not like he needs to endear himself to fans further, but it’s just one more reason to like Peter Jackson.

Besides The Hobbit, Stephen Fry will also leave his mark on another notable adaptation of British literature when he plays Mycroft Holmes opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes 2. As much as I’m eager to see Fry in Middle Earth, I think I’m more excited to see how he handles the role of Holmes’ lazy, but brilliant older brother. (But that’s just me.)

Does Stephen Fry’s casting make you more excited for The Hobbit? What other roles in the book would you like to see in the film?

The Hobbit: Part 1 arrives in theaters in December 2012. Part 2 arrives a year later in December 2013.

Source: Peter Jackson via IndieWire