Sir Ian McKellen has announced on his website that filming on The Lord of the Rings prequels will get underway in the next few months. The veteran actor – who will reprise his role as Gandalf – said that shooting on the two-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s classic The Hobbit will begin in New Zealand this July: “Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.”
‘Old friends’ returning in the $300m epic(s) include Gollum (Andy Serkis) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) with Cate Blanchett also rumoured to be reprising her role as Galadriel. Meanwhile two favourites of director Guillermo del Toro – Hellboy’s Ron Perlman and Doug Jones – are in line to appear, although there’s no indication as yet as to what characters they may play.
Back in May 2009 we ran an article asking What’s Happening With The Hobbit?, and since then little seems to have changed. Of course, with del Toro and producer Peter Jackson currently hard at work Down Under who knows what’s going on behind the scenes, but if McKellen is accurate and filming commences in a few short months then details of casting – including the $64,000 question of who steps into Ian Holm’s Hobbit-feet prosthetics as the younger Bilbo Baggins – must surely be imminent.
A host of actors have been rumoured to be under consideration for the part including Matthew Goode (Watchmen), James McAvoy (Wanted), David Tennant (Dr. Who), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) and just about every other name that springs to mind on a slow news day. With this pivotal role – not to mention a whole host of supporting characters – yet to be filled, we may be able to look forward to a flood of announcements in the coming weeks.