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    First Look! The Hobbit Cast Poses for Pics

    Hobbit Cast

    Now it's really starting to feel like The Hobbit is going to happen!

    Following the news earlier this week that the much-delayed two-part Lord of the Rings prequel was finally ready to begin production on March 21, along comes the first cast photo of Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and the 13 actors who will be playing the dwarves in the films.

    MORE: Total Coverage—The Hobbit

    The exciting group shot was taken just outside the Park Road Post Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, on Thursday, where the cast members held a press conference to discuss the project.

    Noticeably absent, though, was producer-director Peter Jackson, who is still recovering from surgery for a perforated ulcer.

    "I'd love to be with you all this morning, but I'm currently under a medical form of house arrest to prevent me from overdoing it, until fully recovered from my recent operation," he said in a statement. "I'll be jumping back into it very soon."

    Five weeks and three days to be exact. But who's counting?

    VIDEO: More Movie News—Streep's British Transformation

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