Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen Officially Signed for The Hobbit Movies

No surprise here. Andy Serkis has signed a deal to return as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s two “Hobbit” movies. He’ll be joining Martin Freeman, playing a younger version of Bilbo Baggins, along with Elijah Wood, last reported to be reprising Frodo Baggins in the two movies. Ian McKellen, after a lot of surprising maybe/maybe-not, is now also officially back as the wizard Gandalf.

Also expected back: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Christopher Lee as Saruman. Orlando Bloom was previously rumored to also be back as Legalos, but that’s still up in the air. Both Galadriel and Legalos don’t actually appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s source novel, but that didn’t stop Jackson from including Frodo in the upcoming movie anyway.

The premise of “The Hobbit” movies follows Freeman’s Bilbo, who is on an epic quest with Gandalf and 13 dwarves led by their King, Thorin Oakenshield (to be played by Richard Armitage), to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and strike down the talking dragon Smaug (possibly voiced by Bill Nighy, whose participation is also up in the air).

It’s during this journey that Bilbo runs across a little ring that everyone seems to want in that “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that came out a little while back. Serkis’ Gollum, of course, really, really wants that ring back.

Peter Jackson and company commences the back-to-back production starting in February 14 on location in New Zealand.