Ian McKellen to reprise Gandalf for The Hobbit, Andy Serkis returns as Gollum

If, like me, you’ve been vaguely aware of attempts to make a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings, you’ll be pleased to hear that Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis will be appearing in The Hobbit. Both actors are reprising their roles as Gandalf and Gollum respectively.

As a fan of the original movies, this is joyous news – both for continuity with the three LOTR films and simply that these much-loved actors are returning.

It feels like since Peter Jackson stepped into the director’s chair for this movie that it’s really started to move forward. The Hobbit seemed to be having difficulty moving past selecting a director. Now that Jackson is in the picture things seem to be moving a bit more smoothly. Was there any doubt that he was the right man for the job from the very start?

Ian McKellen has posted an excellent piece on his own site about his decision to return to Middle Earth (or New Zealand, if you prefer). He says he’s been working his schedule around the possibility of filming The Hobbit for some time now – and you can see that he’s weighed up his decision carefully:

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. 

There’s an exciting little postscript to this – he starts filming in New Zealand on 21st February 2011 (that’s next month, don’tcha know?).

So, with that news, there are rumblings that Ian Holm may reprise his role as the older Bilbo Baggins, although the Bilbo in the film will be played by The Office star Martin Freeman. Perplexingly, Elijah Wood will be playing Frodo – despite Frodo not being part of The Hobbit. Luckily, /Film explains how Frodo is being brought into the tale.

Christopher Lee is reportedly in talks to come back as Saruman, and I’ve read that Orlando Bloom might appear as Legolas again. [Aside: I still find it weird to look at Bloom with dark hair after playing Legolas!] Cate Blanchett is also confirmed for the movie.

Sounds a bit like a reunion, doesn’t it? The Hobbit is being split into two parts for this adaptation – Part one is expected in cinemas on 19 December 2012, with the second film due in December 2013. 

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