By Mike Fleming at Deadline.com: BREAKING: While Peter Jackson and Warner Bros are figuring out where they’ll shoot back-to-back installments of The Hobbit, Jackson has begun to set his cast for the ambitious projects that will begin shooting in February for release in December 2012, and 2013. As Deadline told you last week, Martin Freeman is set to play Bilbo Baggins, the adventurous Hobbit whose adventures and discovery of the One Ring leads the story up to The Lord of the Rings. Freeman has appeared in films ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Hot Fuzz to Love Actually.
Jackson has cast several other significant Dwarf characters.
Richard Armitage (MI-5 and Captain America: The First Avenger) will play Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarves which sets off to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a thieving dragon. Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) will play Kili and Fili, members of the Company of Dwarves. Graham McTavish (Secretariat) will play Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) will play Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) will play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow (King Kong) plays Dori, while Peter Hambleton (The Strip) will play Gloin.
That casting has just beginning, and there will be much more. Word is that Jimmy Nesbitt and David Tennant are up for roles, and that Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are expected to reprise Gandalf and Gollum. Stephen Fry, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Nighy is a possible participant as the voice of Smaug the Dragon, and Aiden Turner is in contention for the Elf King.
“Despite the various rumours and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us,” Peter Jackson said. There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave–exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”