The fate of Middle-Earth hangs in the balance — well, its fate in New Zealand, at least — but now we know the names of the fantasy land's greatest champions... and as many had hoped and expected, Martin Freeman is indeed "The Hobbit."
Peter Jackson has officially announced several of the key players cast in his two-part prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, including the previously rumored Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and "MI-5" actor Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshielf, leader of the Company of Dwarves.
"Despite the various rumors and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us," the director said of Freeman's casting. "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."
"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 Oakenshield," Jackson added of Armitage. "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."
Seven other actors have been cast as dwarves in "The Hobbit," including Aiden Turner and Rob Kazinsky as Kili and Fili, Graham McTavish as Dwalin, John Callen as Oin, Stephen Hunter as Bombur, Mark Hadlow as Dori and Peter Hambleton as Gloin.
Deadline reports some additional casting news, stating that the previously rumored James Nesbitt and David Tennant are still up for roles in the film. Furthermore, the site adds actors Stephen Fry, Saoirse Ronan and Bill Nighy (as the voice of Smaug) as potential cast members.
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