Production on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit has (thankfully) proceeded without a significant hiccup, with the sole bit of trouble being related to Rob Kazinksy's departure from the film. As expected, his role as the dwarf Fili was quickly recast; the two-part adaptation has at last filled another important supporting role as well.
New Zealand actor Dean O'Gorman is now playing one of the thirteen dwarves that accompany Bilbo Baggins on his famous Middle-Earth adventure; in addition, Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) is now officially set to appear as Elven King Thrandull.
Jackson announced the news in his now customary fashion, posting the following on Facebook:
Dean O'Gorman will be playing Fili. Dean's a terrific Kiwi actor, who I am thrilled to be working with. He's recently been in an excellent TV series down here called "The Almighty Johnsons", and I should let fans of that show know that our shooting schedule allows Dean to continue with a second series next year. Dean will be joining us next week.
I'm also pleased to announce that Lee Pace will be playing the Elven King Thranduil. Casting these Tolkien stories is very difficult, especially the Elven characters, and Lee has always been our first choice for Thranduil. He's going to be great. We loved his performance in a movie called "The Fall" a few years ago, and have been hoping to work with him since. When we were first discussing who would be right for Thranduil, Lee came into mind almost immediately.
That wasn't all the director had to offers fans; he also posted a photo of Hugo Weaving and himself on the set of The Hobbit, immediately prompting speculation that the former will indeed be reprising his role as Elrond from Lord of the Rings in Jackson's two-part prequel. Well, it turns out that wasn't just a tease - The Hobbit spokeswoman Melissa Booth confirmed to Stuff that Weaving is officially returning to play the pointy-eared character.
Check out a (slightly cropped) version of said set pic below:
There have long been rumors that David Tennant would be portraying Thrandull in Jackson's The Hobbit - and admittedly, the Doctor Who alumnus (in my opinion, of course) has the sort of unique appearance and manner that would make him a fitting choice to portray an elf alongside the likes of Weaving, Orlando Bloom, and Cate Blanchett. All the same, I'm a fan of Pace as well and if Jackson thinks he's a proper fit to play an elven king, then that's good enough for me.
As for Weaving: his return as Elrond is quite fitting - and not only because Weaving gave a memorable performance as the long-lived Elvish leader in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The character actually played a brief but pivotal role in Tolkien's original Hobbit novel, so his reappearance in the two-part film adaptation was a no-brainer, in that regard.
Despite all the pre-production hurdles that Jackson and company had to jump through, The Hobbit is looking pretty fantastic overall right now. While some of the announcements about cast members from the Lord of the Rings trilogy reappearing in the two-part prequel (despite their not being in Tolkien's original novel) left a number of fans mildly concerned, there's good reason to hope that Jackson and his team will integrate them organically into these new films.
The Hobbit: Part 1 arrives in theaters in December 2012. Part 2 arrives a year later in December 2013.