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January 10, 2011 - The Hobbit: Part 2 / Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood now officially cast

Scooped on Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lord of the Rings movie fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that both Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis have signed on to reprise their roles as Gandalf the Grey and Gollum, respectively, in the two Hobbit movies. Additionally, Elijah Wood will make a surprise return to The Shire of Middle-earth and once again play Frodo Baggins, the character he portrayed in all three Lord of the Rings movies.

In the time leading up to today's announcement, both McKellen and Serkis had been notably absent from the spate of casting announcements issued by Warner Bros. and director Peter Jackson. While there still are important parts left to fill for The Hobbit (such as the voice of Smaug, the dragon), McKellen and Serkis were both heavily liked by fans of Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Had they not participated in The Hobbit films there's would have been a sizeable absence felt.

McKellen was the first made the announcement on his website:

 

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

 

Regarding Serkis and Wood, Warner Bros. issued a press release confirming their involvement. "I cannot imagine returning to Middle-earth without these two wonderful actors," said Peter Jackson in the studio comment. "We began this journey together ten years ago and I couldn't be more thrilled to be working with Elijah and Andy again."

Rumor has it that Elijah Wood will be able to reprise his character of Frodo (who doesn't appear in The Hobbit story, as it's set before his birth) by appearing in the opening and closing moments of the two films. Frodo will be seen reading his uncle's story from his book.

The first day of filming The Hobbit takes place next month in February.

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