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There are few properties as closely associated with geek culture as the world of J.R.R. Tolkien and "Lord of the Rings," so naturally "The Hobbit" had to make a San Diego Comic-Con appearance ahead of its December bow.

Some of the cast members stopped by MTV News' space at Comic-Con to talk about returning to Middle-earth and bringing that world to the convention.

One of the newest cast members, Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin the dwarf, was happy to bring the fans what they love. "It's been awesome, and coming here today and seeing the way the fans are expecting the film, it's really exciting, because you see that expectation and the love for the books and the trilogy," he said. "So that's been great."

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The Hobbit

Apparently, when it rains in Hobbiton, it pours. With anticipation so high for the two-part fantasy epic, "The Hobbit," fans everywhere eagerly await each piece of news from the New Zealand set, usually living from production diary to production diary. Three interesting pieces of news about the upcoming films showed up online today, so click on for a rundown of everything currently happening in the world of "The Hobbit."

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HobbitThe greatest adventure is what lies ahead, and now you know what the greatest adventurers are going to look like.

Your very first looks at Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey and several other cast members from "The Hobbit" have arrived online. We already saw some tantalizing photos of Peter Jackson on the set of the two-part "Lord of the Rings" prequel just a few weeks ago, but if you're a Middle-Earth maniac like me, your brain is almost certainly bubbling over with awesome overload from this latest batch of images.

Check out our rundown of the latest "Hobbit" photos, which debuted at Entertainment Weekly, past the jump!

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Some days, all you really need is a picture of Gandalf the Grey chillaxing with sunglasses on.

Today is one such day. Coming Soon scored this awesome photo of Ian McKellen reprising his iconic role on the set of "The Hobbit," though the wizardry on display here is of a different variety than most of us are used to.

Check out the rest of today's movie news past the jump, including a director signing on for Saoirse Ronan's "The Host" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" getting up to some monkey business!

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The HobbitBrace yourself for a May Fact, as Sir Ian McKellen so aptly describes it: Martin Freeman has left "The Hobbit."

Okay, no need to panic — Freeman's gone for now, not for good. McKellen provided a lengthy "Hobbit" update on his blog today, explaining that the man behind Bilbo Baggins has left the set to resume work on a batch of "Sherlock Holmes" telemovies. Once he's finished with those projects, he'll return to Middle-Earth to finish out his crucial role on "The Hobbit."

If your stress levels aren't down yet, how about this nugget of goodness: Hugo Weaving is indeed returning to "The Hobbit" after all.

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The HobbitIf Peter Jackson announcing the official start of production hasn't convinced you that "The Hobbit" is actually happening, perhaps some new on-set updates will do the trick.

Everybody's favorite ring-hording cave-dweller, Gollum, is officially back in action. The One Ring scored a series of photographs showing actor Andy Serkis on the New Zealand set of "The Hobbit," dressed head to toe in motion-capture gear as he prepares to return to the tragic "Lord of the Rings" character we all love to hate — though, really, how can anybody hate that disgusting little face?

In related "Hobbit" news, Ian McKellen has once again immersed himself in the world of Gandalf the Grey. On his blog, McKellen wrote at length about physically transforming himself into the warm-hearted wizard once more, a process that includes shaving his facial hair (so that his long, signature beard can adhere to his face more easily) and reconnecting with his familiar grey robes.

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Orlando Bloom as LegolasThe past couple of weeks have seen a number of familiar "Lord of the Rings" faces confirm their returns to Middle-Earth in Peter Jackson's upcoming two-part prequel, "The Hobbit": First Elijah Wood joined up as "LOTR" hero Frodo Baggins, then news broke that Andy Serkis had locked a deal to reappear as Gollum, and finally came the refreshing news that Sir Ian McKellen is back on board as wisdom-spewing wizard Gandalf. But although reports of Orlando Bloom's return as Elvish archer Legolas in "The Hobbit" surfaced more than a month ago, we've had no confirmation since.

Today, however, comes word from Movieweb (via Heat World) that Bloom is indeed nearing a deal to reprise the beloved role. But here's the kicker: According to the report, he's in line to receive a cool $1 million for what will be just a two-minute cameo. Read More...

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Ian McKellenWell folks, it's official. Ian McKellen will reprise his "Lord of the Rings" role as benevolent wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson's two-part "LOTR" prequel "The Hobbit."

It's not really a shocker, but good to know just the same. McKellen confirmed the news himself in a lengthy message posted to his official website. After addressing the various reasons that kept him from inking a deal, McKellen wrote: "The deciding negotiation was not about money but about dates. Gandalf is needed on set over the next 18 months but with sizable breaks when I can work on other projects. My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle-Earth was lifted. I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21 2011." So are we, dude. Read More...

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Andy Serkis as GollumNo shocker here, but good news just the same: Deadline is reporting that at long last Andy Serkis has locked down a deal to reprise his "The Lord of the Rings" role as the bug-eyed, Precious-loving creature Gollum in Peter Jackson's forthcoming two-part "Hobbit" prequel.

Had Serkis not signed on, it would have totally burned us, Precious -- he was amazing in the role in the final two "Lord of the Rings" flicks. But despite the fact that the majority of "The Hobbit" cast has already been announced, there was really little doubt that Serkis would return for the small but pivotal role in (likely) the second of the two films. In addition to appearing in the aforementioned "LOTR" movies for the director, he also had a sizable part in Jackson's "King Kong" and one of the leads in Jackson's upcoming collaboration with Steven Spielberg, "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn." Read More...

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James NesbittThe merry band of dwarves who'll be accompanying Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins on a quest to destroy the dragon Smaug in "The Hobbit" continues to grow: James Nesbitt and Adam Brown have just joined the cast of the two-part "Lord of the Rings" prequel Peter Jackson is currently prepping to shoot in his native New Zealand.

Nesbitt, a British actor best known for Danny Boyle's "Millions" and TV's "Cold Feet," had been rumored for a role in the films for a while, but had not been confirmed until now. He will play Bofur -- a no-nonsense, funny and courageous dwarf. Brown, a relative newcomer, will play fellow dwarf Ori. Both of them will set out with Frodo Baggins' uncle Bilbo to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the deadly dragon Smaug. Read More...

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