It’s been a long time coming, but there was finally cause for rejoicing in Middle-earth last week when director Peter Jackson announced he’d cast several key roles in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, The Hobbit. The casting of Martin Freeman of the UK Office fame as Bilbo Baggins was widely expected, but some Tolkien fans were surprised and slightly befuddled to see English actor Richard Armitage, best known for the BBC series MI-5, cast as Thorin Oakenshield, the gruff leader of a company of dwarves. What was Jackson doing hiring a hunky actor to play a character most often depicted in illustrations — and in the 1977 animated Hobbit movie — as a squat, crabby, Wilford Brimley-ish old dwarf with a long white beard? In an interview (after the jump), Jackson tells EW the choice is actually right in line with the casting of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn and Orlando Bloom as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. More..