Billy Connolly Signs on for The Hobbit

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Billy Connolly is joining the cast of Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Hobbit. The announcement was made today by Jackson, who directed all three “The Lord of the Rings” films and is currently in production on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, with the films shooting back-to-back in New Zealand.

In the films, Connolly (The Last Samurai, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) will play Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and cousin of Thorin Oakenshield. Peter Jackson welcomed the news of Connolly to Middle-earth: “We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dain Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of Dwarves, than Billy Connelly, the Big Yin himself. With Billy stepping into this role, the cast of ‘The Hobbit’ is now complete. We can’t wait to see him on the Battlefield!”

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and Martin Freeman plays the central role of Bilbo Baggins. Also reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean OÂ’Gorman, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, and Aidan Turner.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be released beginning December 14, 2012. The second film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is slated for release the following year, beginning December 13, 2013.

The screenplays for both films are by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again are productions of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television licensing, being handled by MGM.

(Photo Credit: WENN.com)