While appearing on BBC radio this week, Guillermo Del Toro, the director of the upcoming movie The Hobbit, confirmed that several actors from The Lord of the Rings will be returning to reprise their roles — specifically, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
Other media have reported that Bilbo, the main character in The Hobbit, but a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, will not be played by Ian Holm, as in the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit takes place many years before The Lord of the Rings, and a hobbit, unlike an elf or a wizard, would appear to be considerably younger than the Rings character. Holm is 77.
No actor has yet been announced for the role of Bilbo, though the producers are said to be very close to a decision. Contenders are thought to include James McAvoy (Tumnis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Jack Black, and even Daniel Radcliffe.
Regarding the all-important dragon Smaug, Guillermo told the BBC that, after eight months, they have just “cracked the basic engineering” and will need six or seven months more before the creature is ready for film.
The Hobbit, which will be split into two movies and supplimented with plot material from other Tolkien books, will be filmed in New Zealand in 2010 for a planned 2011 release.