Only a few hours ago, I brought you an update from Guillermo del Toro, director of "The Hobbit," the "Lord of the Rings" prequel which officially begins casting today. His "all is well, things proceeding as planned" message is comforting to fans who have been worrying about delays and the like, but it doesn't really qualify as anything new. Not like this latest update...
For months now, fans have been speculating who might play the role of Bilbo Baggins, the innocent little dude at the center of "The Hobbit"'s story. Ian Holm played his older self in the "Rings" trilogy, but rumors have suggested we'll be seeing someone younger; James McAvoy, David Tennant, Jack Black and Daniel Radcliffe have all been rumored for the role. In fact, the role may soon be filled by "Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire, according to Latino Review.
Maguire told the website during their coverage of "Brothers" that the next director he'd like to work with is none other than del Toro. He went a bit further than that even, adding "We may have something here in the near future."
Latino Review then turned around and followed up on Maguire's comments with "agency sources," who confirmed that the actor's agent is indeed in the early stages of discussing his possible casting as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit." Emphasis is ours, but don't lose sight of it. Maguire's "Spider-Man" commitments keep him very busy, so disappearing into the wilds of New Zealand for what will presumably be a two-movie shoot might pose a considerable problem.
The website correctly points out the studio is going to want someone with a bit of star power for such a massive tentpole. I'm of the mind that the built-in fanbase, coupled with producer Peter Jackson's track record with the franchise, is going to give "The Hobbit" all the legs that it needs. But when you're talking about a project budgeted in the nine-figure range, it's understandable that you'd want to minimize any risks.
Latino Review also makes clear that there's still a big unknown factor in "The Hobbit" production process: MGM owns half of the rights to the story, and their assets are going up for auction next month. There's no indication yet of who might win them, but anything could happen if new players come to control the project's purse strings.
Speaking personally, while I can understand the desire to minimize risk by toplining the duology with a name actor, I don't necessarily think that Maguire is right for the part. He's a fine actor with plenty of range, but he simply doesn't fit the image I have in my head of the character, whereas Elijah Wood as Frodo always made sense. Time will tell of course, both if Maguire actually gets the part and, if so, if he's right for it. For now though, I'm maintaining a little skepticism.
Is Maguire right for Bilbo Baggins? Who would you like to see in the part?