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With “The Hobbit” set to shoot early next year, the studio has released an official announcement on the film’s casting. And yes, as expected, Martin Freeman (left) is indeed playing Bilbo Baggins, played by Ian Holm in the first three “Lord of the Rings” films. The major casting also includes Richard Armitage (below, right) as Thorin Oakenshield, Aidan Turner as Kili, and Rob Kazinsky as Fili.
Press release below:
Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Rob Kazinsky, Aidan Turner, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton have joined the ensemble cast of The Hobbit, it was jointly announced today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema; Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros.; Steve Cooper, co-Chief Executive Officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., and Peter Jackson.
Since The Hobbit films received a green light on October 15, pre-production has been in full swing. Set for release in December, 2012 and December, 2013, we can confirm that Martin Freeman (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz) will play Bilbo Baggins, the hero of the story. Richard Armitage (UK TV’s “MI-5″ and soon to appear in Captain America: The First Avenger) is set to play Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the Company of Dwarves which sets off to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a thieving dragon.
“Despite the various rumors and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us,” says Peter Jackson. “There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave – exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”
He adds: “Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakensheild. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle-earth is in such good hands.”
Rounding out the Company of Dwarves are Aidan Turner (TV’s “Being Human”) and Rob Kazinsky (TVs “EastEnders”) who play Kili and Fili, respectively. Jackson comments, “Rob is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him, I’m thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter; I’m looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding Goblins!” He continues, “Adian is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I’m sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kili.”
The remaining dwarves will be played by Graham McTavish (Secretariat and TV’s “24″) as Dwalin; John Callen (TV’s “Power Rangers Jungle Fury”) as Oin; Stephen Hunter (TV’s “All Saints”) as Bombur; Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori; and Peter Hambleton (TV’s “The Strip”) as Gloin.
Jackson notes, “Graham is a terrific actor, with a great depth of experience, which I know he will bring to the role of “Dwalin. I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects; he is a fantastic actor. I am thrilled to be working with both of them on these movies. He adds, “I am also proud to announce the casting of New Zealand actors as Peter Hambleton, John Callen and Stephen Hunter. Fran and I know that they will bring great depth and talent to our Company of Dwarves.”
The two “The Hobbit” films are being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with Phillipa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins as executive producer.
The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed LOTR trilogy, also from the production team of Jackson, Walsh and Cunningham, grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office. In 2003, Return of the King swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture — the first-ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.