Time for a Hobbity update! Back in April, the news from Middle Earth included a cool photo of Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis (Gollum) being hired as second unit director, and Bret McKenzie joining the cast as Figwit the Elf. Let’s take a look at a few updates on the film, currently in production in New Zealand:
Both movies have titles and release dates. Principal photography is two months into the grueling 14-month production, and Peter Jackson has announced titles and release dates for the two-part 3D adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book ‘The Hobbit.’ The first movie, scheduled for a Dec. 14, 2012 release, is titled ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’ The second movie, set for Dec. 13, 2013, is called ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again.’ Love those titles.
Gandolf in 3D Glasses. Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf the Grey, posted this picture to his Flickr stream on May 11, 2011. The caption reads, “The Hobbit is being filmed in 3D. Even wizards have to wear the glasses. Snapped by Peter Jackson in Wellington, 2011.” Beautiful.
Orlando Bloom will return as Legolas Greenleaf, son of the Elvenking of Mirkwood. On Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, he wrote on May 27, “Ten years ago, Orlando Bloom created an iconic character with his portrayal of Legolas. I’m excited to announce today that we’ll be revisiting Middle Earth with him once more. I’m thrilled to be working with Orlando again. Funny thing is, I look older and he doesn’t! I guess that’s why he makes such a wonderful elf.”
Stephen Fry will play The Master of Laketown. “I’ve known Stephen for several years, and we’re developing a ‘Dambusters’ movie together,” writes Jackson. “In addition to his writing skills, he’s a terrific actor and will create a very memorable Master for us.”
Ryan Gage will play The Master’s conniving civil servant, Alfrid. “Ryan is a great young actor who we originally cast in a small role, but we liked him so much, we promoted him to the much larger Alfrid part,” writes Jackson.
Conan Stevens will play the Orc called Azog. According to my son, Azog took charge of all the goblins who fled into the mountains when Morgath was defeated. Read more about Conan at www.conanstevens.com.
Dean O’Gorman will play Fili. Fili and Kili are brothers, and the youngest of the 13 Dwarves who set out on Thorin Oakenshield’s quest with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. According to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ wiki, Fili’s most distinguishing feature is his long nose, “the longest of any of the Dwarves on the Quest of Erebor.” Jackson writes, “Dean’s a terrific Kiwi actor, who I am thrilled to be working with. He’s recently been in an excellent TV series down here called ‘The Almighty Johnsons,’ and I should let fans of that show know that our shooting schedule allows Dean to continue with a second series next year. ” O’Gorman is taking over for Rob Kazinsky, who had to leave the role of Fili for personal reasons.
Lee Pace will play the Elven King Thranduil. He is a Sindarin elf, King of the Woodland Realm, and father of Legolas. He was the leader of the wood-elves of Northern Mirkwood for more than 3000 years in Middle Earth, seeing his realm through attacks by the great spiders and orcs. “Casting these Tolkien stories is very difficult, especially the Elven characters, and Lee has always been our first choice for Thranduil,” writes Jackson. “He’s going to be great. We loved his performance in a movie called ‘The Fall’ a few years ago, and have been hoping to work with him since. When we were first discussing who would be right for Thranduil, Lee came into mind almost immediately.”
Hugo Weaving will return as Lord Elrond. Ian McKellen reported the news on his blog, noting that the veteran actor was “recently onstage as Astrov in Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ for the Syndey Theatre Company, whose director, Cate Blanchett, played Yelena. Before she returns as Galadriel, they will reprise their production at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center in August.”
Saoirse Ronan will not appear in ‘The Hobbit,’ due to other commitments. She says; “Because I would have been working for about a year on it and there were other projects that I was very interested in [she’s been cast in ‘The Host’], but Pete and [his producer wife] Fran have been very good about it and very understanding … I’ll have to just go back down to New Zealand for a holiday and hang out with the hobbits.”
Take a look at this 10-minute clip of life on the set of ‘The Hobbit’:
Many thanks to my Kiwi Hobbiteer Melanie McMinn, who blogs at Frugal Kiwi and keeps me updated on all things Middle Earth.