Peter Jackson has his fearless burglar in the bag. Or should we say, the Baggins?
The studios behind The Hobbit officially confirmed Thursday that British actor Martin Freeman will be playing the titular Shire hero, Bilbo Baggins, in Jackson's two-part Lord of the Rings prequel.
"Despite the various rumours and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us," Jackson said in a statement.
But Bilbo isn't going it alone in today's casting news. MGM, New Line and Warner Bros. also rolled out a roster of actors who will be playing the hobbit's comrades in treasure hunting and Smaug slaying...
Brit Richard Armitage, who presumably will be seen in Captain America: The First Avenger long before The Hobbit's journey concludes, has signed on to play Thorin Oakenshield, head of the company of dwarves who are off to recapture his lost inheritance.
Rounding out the troop are Aidan 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. (You never know which one of them is going to be the next Dominic Monaghan!)
The manly group will gather in February—possibly in New Zealand, possibly elsewhere—to start shooting the long-awaited epic.
In response to the decision made by SAG, AFTRA and New Zealand Actors' Equity not to boycott or otherwise interfere with the production, the studios said in a joint statement earlier today that they are still waiting to hear from other industry unions before they make their final decision about whether to move production out of New Zealand, where LOTR was shot.
"The actions of these unions have caused us substantial damage and disruption and forced us to consider other filming locations for the first time," the studios said. "Alternative locations are still being considered."
Meanwhile, since the film was officially greenlighted, there's been no word on whether Ian McKellen, who's been attached as Gandalf since the project's inception, or Andy "Gollum" Serkis are officially on board.