Recent news about the upcoming prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy has been more negative than anything else. First there was the report that Guillermo Del Toro would be stepping down as the film’s director because of the seemingly endless production delays. That announcement was followed by months of speculation as to who would be stepping into the directors chair before it was finally announced that Peter Jackson would be fulfilling the obligation. Then it was reported that the 7 major acting unions were boycotting The Hobbit and requesting that their members do not join. That boycott has since ended, but the damage has been done and as a result the film may not be shot on location in New Zealand like the previous Lord of the Rings films. For the past several weeks daily rumors have surfaced about casting decisions, more production delays, and general unhappiness among Peter Jackson and the crew of producers he already has lined up on the seemingly maligned film, leading some sites to speculate on whether the highly anticipated movie will ever actually happen.
Finally some positive news about the film has been released that not only indicates that it might be on track after all, but it also will be continuing the creative and artistic prowess of the Lord of the Rings franchise. The casting for The Hobbit has been officially announced and the rumors have been confirmed that Martin Freeman will be starring as the adventurous Bilbo Baggins. Freeman is most recognizable to American audiences for having starred as Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and as the porn star stand-in in Love Actually. Freeman also excelled in the original cast of BBC’s “The Office” as Tim, the character famously known in the American remake as Jim Halpert. With ears that stick out ever so slightly and a wide nose, Freeman’s features are appropriately Hobbit-esque and he looks like a younger version of Ian Holm, who played Bilbo in the original series. That along with his comedic excellence make him a fitting choice to play the title character in Peter Jackson’s upcoming film.
Along with the central Hobbit, the casting choices for the fellowship of Dwarves have also been announced. They include British television actor Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Irish actor Aidan Turner as Kili, East-Enders’ Rob Kzinsky as Filli, “Lost” actor Graham McTavish as Dwalin, John Callin as Oin, Peter Hambleton as Gloin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, and Mark Hadlow as Dori. Jackson and the casting directors wisely chose a cast of British stars that are not internationally well-known, which will give the film that has been endlessly talked about a sort of narrative freshness. It also allows for the film’s enormous budget to be spent on the sets, costumes, and technical aspects, rather than the talent.
This news implies some good things may be in store for what undoubtedly has to be one of the most anticipated films of all-time. Hopefully this will cheer up a frustrated Peter Jackson who shares his passion and anger in this interview on New Zealand television:
The Hobbit will be split between two films to be released in December of 2012 and December of 2013.