McKellen, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Gandalf, has spent recent years doing mostly voice work for film and TV, although he did star in the remake of AMC's The Prisoner. His last major film role was in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
(A.V. Club) --
There were those who greeted the news of Ian McKellen’s late-stage signing on to The Hobbit
as a holdout calculated to wring a larger payday out of a bunch of naïve movie folks, folks from a Hollywood where values are… different, who just wanted to tell a story about a squat man and his magical ring, and a slick small-towner like Ian McKellen was trying to take ’em for all they were worth. Not so! McKellen explained via his personal blog
, which he has, that the delay was simply a matter of timing and his own advancing years, saying, “All I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given me.” As such, his main concern was being able to do other things during the 18 months that “Gandalf is needed on set,” while also “wondering was Gandalf what I most wanted to do, more than a new play for instance or indeed a new part? Sequels aren’t necessarily as rewarding to act in as their originals.”
Clearly bored of money, at one point McKellen even asked himself, “Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did? Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?” (We’re pretty sure that someone
does—but the dude died, so what are they gonna do?) Anyway, after being assured that he could “easily escape from Middle Earth,” McKellen committed—although he adds, “I’m 71 and fit: though at my age who knows what accident is 'round the next corner?” Well, best to retreat to the comforting stability of The Hobbit
production then. [via Deadline
(A.V. Club) --
After yesterday’s report
that Cate Blanchett would reprise her Lord Of The Rings
role as elf queen Galadriel in The Hobbit
, many pointed out that Galadriel does not actually appear
in The Hobbit
, suggesting that Peter Jackson may be including familiar characters from one of the most popular film trilogies of all time simply as a way of hedging his bets. Further evidence: Orlando Bloom is reportedly close to signing a deal to return to Middle Earth
as arrow-slinging elf Legolas, and Deadline reports his appearance comprises “more than a cameo.” Of course, Tolkien fans would tell you that this is really just a quibble, as although his character was not introduced in the book, Legolas would have had to be alive during the events of The Hobbit
, and that Tolkien would surely have included him if he knew that someday he’d help Peter Jackson make another buttload of money.
Besides, with no Legolas, to whom will people dedicate their Hobbit
YouTube tribute videos? Martin Freeman?
Fans of BBC’s The Office, rejoice. Martin Freeman is now actually, really, 100 percent officially confirmed to play Bilbo Baggins. According to Peter Jackson, “Despite the various rumors and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us.” I wish he would have told us that before we spent all that time speculating and spreading rumors. But that’s not all! The list of actors playing each of the film’s many dwarves have been announced as well. Get to know them as Movieline breaks it down after the jump.
1. Richard Armitage as head dwarf Thorin Oakenshield
If you’re a fan of British Television, you may know Armitage from MI5, Robin Hood, and North and South. Also, according to Jackson, Armitage “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.”
2. Aidan Turner as Kili
Again, If you’re a fan of British television, you may know this Irish actor from The Clinic and Being Human. Otherwise, you probably do not know him. Sorry. Jackson has faith though, saying, “He 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.”
3. Rob Kazinsky as Filli
More British television! Kazinsky had a long running part on the show East-Enders, which fans of Ricky Gervais’ Extras should be familiar with. Says Jackson: “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.” More significantly though, Kazinsky is also a champion sword fighter.
4. Graham McTavish as Dwalin
McTavish played that tough-as-nails bald mercenary that fought on Stallone’s team in the last Rambo and had a recurring role in season four of Lost (as Desmond’s drill sergeant in “The Constant”) as well as the TV show Red Dwarf. He also does a lot of video game voice-over work.
5. John Callin as Oin
You may know Callin as the voice of Sonimax in Power Rangers Jungle Fury. Or you may not. As of now, a Google image search for him brings up a number of pictures of John Calvin, the leader of the Protestant reformation.
Okay, enough. It keeps going like this. Rounding out the dwarves: Stephen Hunter will play Bombur, Peter Hambleton will play Gloin, and New Zealand Stand-up Comic Mark Hadlow will play Dori.
Kudos to Jackson for giving relatively unknown actors a shot. Looks like most of the absurd budget on this one will actually go to what’s on screen and not just paying huge actor salaries.
The film will be split up into two parts and will be released in December 2012 and December 2013.
[via The Wrap