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Playing Hobbit Catch-Up.

January 11, 2011

After being in development hell for far too long, the Hobbit film is finally lurching its way towards production. Guillermo del Toro dropped out due to the sluggish pace, and now that Peter Jackson is in the director’s chair the casting rumors have begun to fly.

Yes, it’s sad that Ian Holm will not be reprising his role as Bilbo (though he may cameo). But the good news is that Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz, Hitchhiker’s Guide) is pegged for the part. Excellent casting, if you ask me.

Okay, so we have Bilbo. But what about the other big part of the novel? Will Ian McKellen return as Gandalf? HELL YES.

All I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given me.

I’m 71 and fit: though at my age who knows what accident is ’round the next corner? For a year or more, I have been arranging my professional commitments around the possibility of The Hobbit films starting at almost anytime. We brought the Waiting for Godot tour of Australia to New Zealand early 2010, assuming I would stay on to start shooting soon after. Then there was yet another delay: but in Wellington I met with Guillermo del Toro and later read his script for Part One, written with the LOTR writing team. It was true to the style, the fun and the romance of the trilogy.

When Peter Jackson, already producing, resumed the director’s chair, he kept me in touch with developments. A second screenplay was sent over, on the understanding that I would not talk about what I read in it.

After the ruckus over trade union expectations and unlikely rumours of filming outside New Zealand, suddenly crucial casting was announced, plus a start date in February 2011. Martin Freeman as Bilbo sounds perfect. As my agent continued to negotiate with Warner Brothers, I kept wondering was Gandalf what I most wanted to do, more than a new play for instance or indeed a new part? Sequels aren’t necessarily as rewarding to act in as their originals.

Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did? Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?

The deciding negotiation was not about money but about dates. Gandalf is needed on set over the next 18 months but with sizeable breaks when I can work on other projects. My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted.

I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21 2011.

–Ian McKellen, London, January 2011…

Hooray! It’s also been confirmed that Andy Serkis will return as Gollum, which in the book was a short little appearance. A handful of the Dwarven Hoarde has also been cast.

But this is where things start to get a little… strange. Apparently, Cate Blanchette and Elijah Wood are returning, with a rumored return of Orlando Bloom as Galadriel, Frodo, and Legolas. Were… were any of these characters in the book? I don’t remember them, and a quick Google dig says no. Now, I try not to get into the nerd-purist territory too much, but… why? Why turn what is already a long two-part movie into something more complicated by throwing even more characters/stars in there? It feels a little… gimmicky.

My favorite (no doubt completely completely false) rumor is that Leonard Nimoy might play the voice of the dragon Smaug. Why is this not in the least bit possible? Well, A. He’s got that pesky American accent and B. He’s stated repeatedly that he has retired from acting. But the reason it’s my favorite rumor (and the reason that rumor is even out there) is this:

You’re welcome.

In other news, I found this cute Hobbit Feet Baby Booties knitting pattern for all you knit nerds out there.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 12:42 pm

    OOooOOOOoooh! I’ve been longing to hear news about The Hobbit movie, so thanks for this!

  2. January 11, 2011 4:10 pm

    Egads! Earworm! Noooooo! I will not click the video! I will not click the…


    I don’t need to. I know it by heart.

    Clicking the video.

    *more sighing*

    (And Nimoy showed up in Fringe aplenty so he’s not very retired, is he?)

    • January 12, 2011 2:55 pm

      According to the linked article, his appearance in Fringe was his curtain call. Furthermore, it needs to be pointed out that Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins! Only three feet taaaaall!

  3. January 11, 2011 9:59 pm

    Oh lord, I think I first saw that Nimoy video like seven years ago. And it never gets any less terrifying. *shudder*

    And no, Galadriel, Frodo, and Legolas are NOT in The Hobbit. However, it would be easy to make the argument that Legolas COULD be in it, because Bilbo and the dwarves go to Mirkwood, which is the group of elves Legolas is originally from. So, even though Legolas’ name never shows up (because Tolkien had not yet written or even thought of writing LotR yet) it would be conceivable, after the fact, that he would be there. And I GUESS, in the same vein, it would be possible for Frodo to be around to — in the same retro-active fashion that Legolas would be (its just that Tolkien had not yet conceived of the character). As for Galadriel…? I’ve got nothing.

    (And can you tell I think about this stuff WAY too much?)

    • January 12, 2011 2:58 pm

      I haven’t read the books in years and years, and I’m trying to recall certain scenes where they could possibly be worked in. Frodo is the most mind boggling to me. How many years prior to LOTR does Hobbit take place? Are they going to computer generate a kid Elijah Wood?


  1. Martin Freeman gets his feet on: First “Hobbit” pics « The Feminine Miss Geek

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