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    Stephen Fry Joins The Hobbit Crew

    Stephen Fry, The Hobbit Cast Greg Gayne/FOX; NC

    Peter Jackson is continuing to beef up The Hobbit with some major talent.

    The Oscar-winning director took time out from shooting the highly anticipated two-part epic in New Zealand to announce on his Facebook page that Stephen Fry will join the cast playing The Master of Laketown.

    "I've known Stephen for several years, and we're developing a Dambusters movie together. In addition to his writing skills, he's a terrific actor and will create a very memorable Master for us," the helmer wrote.

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    Jackson waited until now to confirm Fry's participation since his character features in sequences that take place later in the story, hence a ways in the production schedule.

    The Master of Laketown is the greedy and cowardly elected leader of this little community, also called Esgaroth, in the northeastern part of Middle-earth. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) and their dwarven companions encounter him on the way to the Lonely Mountain to wrest the treasure away from the evil dragon Smaug.

    The 53-year-old Fry is a popular actor, playwright, director and comedian who's worked for many years in both television and film. Stateside viewers might know him best as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the hit Fox series Bones.

    Notable credits on the big screen include Kenneth Branagh's 1992 comedy-drama Peter's Friends, 2005's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story and as the narrator in that year's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He's also been tapped to play Mycroft Holmes in the upcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel, and as Jackson noted, the two are collaborating on a script for a big-screen remake of the classic World War II film The Dam Busters.

    But Fry's casting isn't the only news. Jackson also revealed that newcomer Ryan Gage, originally set for a minor role, has been promoted to the part of Alfrid, the Master's conniving civil servant. And the massively tall Conan Stevens will play an Orc called Azog, according to Jackson, who quipped, "Orcs are never called Roger or Dennis for some strange reason."

    The Hobbit: Part 1 hits theaters in Dec. 2012 with the second and final installment arriving a year later.

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