Andy Serkis to Return for The Hobbit

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 Jackson’s highly anticipated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic “The Hobbit.” The films, which are scheduled to commence principal photography in February 2011, mark Jackson’s 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 (TV’s “Sherlock,” “Breaking and Entering”) as Bilbo Baggins, Cate Blanchett (“Lord of The Rings” trilogy, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Ken Stott (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, TV’s “Rebus”), Sylvester McCoy (TV’s “Doctor Who”), Mikael Persbrandt (“Everlasting Moments”, “Day and Night”). Ryan Gage (“Outlaw”, TV’s “Doctors”). Richard Armitage (upcoming “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Aidan Turner (TV’s “Being Human”), Rob Kazinsky (TVs “EastEnders”), Graham McTavish (“Secretariat”), John Callen (TV’s “Power Rangers Jungle Fury”), Stephen Hunter (TV’s “All Saints”), Mark Hadlow (“King Kong”) and Peter Hambleton (TV’s “The Strip”). Additional cast announcements include James Nesbitt (“Millions” and TV’s “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. Tolkien’s 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 trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.

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