A little more than a week ago we reported on director Peter Jackson's first video blog from the set of the long-awaited Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit.
Now, the director is following-up on a few frequently asked fan-questions that were been raised in response to the video's debut (and subsequent dissection by the Tolkien nation) - most importantly, will Ian Holm (who played the aged Baggins in the original trilogy) return? Fortunately, for fans of continuity and academy award nominees wearing Hobbit feet - the answer is yes.
Jackson posted on his official Facebook page, in response to confusion about the voice-over work in the video blog - with some fans believing that Holm had recorded the audio (in an attempt to confirm that actor would be in the film).
In case you missed the coverage last week, we've included the video below. Listen for the infamous voice over in the final 10 seconds of the video (near the 10:20 mark):
There's no doubt the voice-track bears a resemblance to Ian Holm's work in the original trilogy. However, in about 50 words Jackson simultaneously clears-up the confusion (the voice belongs to the new Bilbo Baggins, Martin Freeman) while simultaneously confirming that Holm will return (in some form):
"One comment that came up from the recent video blog was the Bilbo voice at the end—many of you assumed it was Sir Ian Holm. Whilst Ian will be returning as the older Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, that recording was actually Martin Freeman's voice, taken from a script read through we recorded when the cast first arrived. I have to admit, I wasn't sure who it was when I first heard it, either. Cheers, Peter J."
While certainly exciting news, let's pause for one second and give Martin Freeman some credit for pulling-off a competent Bilbo voice that tricked a lot of die-hard fans. Given the legacy behind Bilbo's prosthetic shoes (with a lot of narration to handle - coupled with Holm's terrific performance in the role), Freeman definitely seems ready to do the character justice - maintaining the dirty fantasy tone of Middle Earth.
That said, while it's great to hear that Holm will be reprising the senior Bilbo Baggins role, it will definitely be interesting to see how exactly the character will be utilized - as well as how much screen time he'll get. The obvious choice would be to have the character narrate the story (possibly to a young Frodo and Sam) - since the book is a much more self-contained and personal story (when compared to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy plot), bookending the new Hobbit films with the older Bilbo might serve as a good framework.
It's also possible that the film will merely flash-forward to the senior Bilbo near the conclusion of the second film.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know how you'd like to see Ian Holm return in the new films.
The Hobbit: Part 1 will reach theaters in December 2012, followed by Part 2 a year later in 2013.