Though it comes as no surprise, official word that Andy Serkis has signed on for The Hobbit should make fans very pleased.
Serkis is best known, of course, for his motion-capture performance in the role of Gollum in the original Lord of the Rings films. The character made his first literary appearance in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, confronting Bilbo in the chapter “Riddles in the Dark,” which also features a very familiar golden ring.
More actors are expected to sign on for the two-part Peter Jackson film in the near future, including Christopher Lee as Saruman and Ian Holm as an older Bilbo Baggins.
Here’s the official press release on Serkis and Elijah Wood’s return:
Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis are set to join the cast of Peter Jacksons highly anticipated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkiens epic The Hobbit. The films, which are scheduled to commence principal photography in February 2011, mark Jacksons return to Middle-earth following his Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy. The announcement was made jointly today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema, Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. and Steve Cooper, co-Chief Executive Officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Jackson, who directed all three Lord of the Rings films, will helm the two films back-to-back, telling the story of The Hobbit in two parts from a screenplay by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.
Elijah Wood (The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) will be returning to play Frodo Baggins the young cousin of Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis (The Lord of The Rings trilogy, King Kong) will be returning to play the character Gollum.
Peter Jackson welcomed the two back. “I cannot imagine returning to Middle-earth without these two wonderful actors. We began this journey together ten years ago and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Elijah and Andy again.”
The actors join the previously announced cast including Martin Freeman (TVs Sherlock, Breaking and Entering) as Bilbo Baggins, Cate Blanchett (Lord of The Rings trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Ken Stott (Charlie Wilsons War, TVs Rebus), Sylvester McCoy (TVs Doctor Who), Mikael Persbrandt (Everlasting Moments, Day and Night). Ryan Gage (Outlaw, TVs Doctors). Richard Armitage (upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger), Aidan Turner (TVs Being Human), Rob Kazinsky (TVs EastEnders), Graham McTavish (Secretariat), John Callen (TVs Power Rangers Jungle Fury), Stephen Hunter (TVs All Saints), Mark Hadlow (King Kong) and Peter Hambleton (TVs The Strip). Additional cast announcements include James Nesbitt (Millions and TVs Cold Feet) Jed Brophy (Lord of The Rings trilogy, District 9), William Kircher (Out of the Blue) and newcomer Adam Brown.
Since The Hobbit films received a green light on October 15, pre-production has been in full swing with release dates targeted for December, 2012 and December, 2013. Jackson will utilize groundbreaking visual effects and his incomparable storytelling to bring J.R.R. Tolkiens novel to the big screen. Both Hobbit movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience.
The two films are being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally.
Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with co-writer Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner as executive producers. The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also from the production team of Jackson, Walsh and Cunningham, grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office.. In 2003, The Return of the King swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The trilogys production was also unprecedented at the time.