A Dragon's Hoard of "Hobbit" Casting News!
It’s been more than two weeks since my last post about the Hobbit films, so I thought I’d bring you an update today on some new information that Peter Jackson announced recently. This time it's with regard to casting, something that is still an ongoing process with these huge films. Jackson has continued to be very open with fans about the progress of shooting, posting regular dispatches from the set on his Facebook page. I’m going to round down some of the more exciting tidbits, and offer my observations on how well these casting decisions will work out in the finished films!
Read on for all the juicy details, and be sure to leave your thoughts on these announcements in the comments section!
I’ll get the big one out of the way first: Orlando Bloom has officially been re-cast as Legolas in the films. That’s right: the Elven sharpshooter will be seen in the two-part epic, but we’re not sure how big his role will be, or whether he’ll only pop up in one film or both. Jackson commented that he was looking forward to working with Bloom again, saying, “Ten years ago, Orlando Bloom created an iconic character with his portrayal of Legolas. I’m excited to announce today that we’ll be revisiting Middle Earth with him once more. Funny thing is, I look older—and he doesn’t! I guess that’s why he makes such a wonderful elf.”
As fans of the book will know, Legolas is the son of Thranduil, the lord of the Elven kingdom in the forest of Mirkwood. While Bilbo (Martin Freeman) doesn’t specifically meet Legolas during his time in the Elvenking’s halls, we can only imagine that Legolas will be visible somewhere (and maybe even have some lines) when Bilbo and the Dwarves are captured. I’m super excited for this news, because Legolas was always one of my favourite characters (especially his surfboard move on the steps at Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers).
If Jackson was sticking directly to the source text, then there wouldn’t be much chance for screen time with Legolas. But Jackson revealed some time ago that they are using the two-part film structure to focus on some events that were connected to the Hobbit narrative but weren’t directly mentioned in the book. Specifically, we’re going to see the battle in Mirkwood where Gandalf teams up with Saruman, Galadriel and an army of elf-lords to drive the Necromancer (a.k.a. Sauron) out of his temporary base of Dol Guldur (this was why Gandalf couldn’t accompany Bilbo and the Dwarves through the forest himself). This would be a chance for us to see Legolas (likely with his father Thranduil and the other Mirkwood elves) in action – should be awesome.
The next casting announcement has far fewer details, but it’s almost as exciting (at least to me). We learned a week ago that Benedict Cumberbatch will be joining the cast in an as-yet-unknown role. The reason I love this news is because Cumberbatch has done some excellent work as Sherlock Holmes in BBC’s fantastic show Sherlock, where he plays a blazingly brilliant, modern version of the famous sleuth (Check out my article on the show here!). It’s kind of cool because Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson in Sherlock) is playing Bilbo, and will get to appear with Cumberbatch again here.
We may not know who he will play in The Hobbit, but I’m sure he’ll bring professionalism and inspiration to any role Jackson gives him. I could definitely see Cumberbatch as an elf, but maybe he’s the choice for Bard the Bowman, the warrior who ends up killing Smaug. Once I hear the confirmation of the role, I’ll be sure to post it here!
In an example of brilliant casting, Jackson announced on May 18th that Stephen Fry will also be joining the project as the Master of Lake-town. I’d watch Stephen Fry in anything, but in case you’re unfamiliar, he’s an actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director AND prolific Twitter presence. Yeah.
More specifically, he’s the host of the British quiz show QI, played Gordon Deitrich (the friendly TV producer) in V For Vendetta, and was the voice of the Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Also, he’s best friends with Hugh Laurie (House), and Rowan Atkinson. He’s almost too fantastic for words, really, and to hear he’ll be playing the Master in The Hobbit is just great news. The Master is a pompous, bureaucratic type who sails away from Lake-town when Smaug attacks, seeking to take his money and run rather than help his citizens. Given Fry’s talent, I can picture him easily filling the role and maybe getting a chance to play with it a bit (I really hope Jackson wrote some funny lines for him).
The last Hobbit casting announcement I’ll feature today is Lee Pace, who has been cast as Legolas' father Thranduil. He has less experience than the above actors, but seems like a good choice nonetheless. His most recognizable role was the lead character Ned in the ABC comedy/drama Pushing Daisies, which aired from 2007-2009 but was cancelled due to poor ratings following the Writers Guild of America strike. In the role of Ned, Pace charmed critics, who proclaimed him to be “endearing” and “immensely likable”. It almost goes without saying that the elf lord Thranduil is a very different character from Ned, being the immortal king of the Mirkwood elves and all that. Because I haven't seen much of Pace onscreen, I’m interested to see what Pace can do with the character.
What do you think about these new members of the Hobbit cast? Have any news about the production you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments section below! Check back tomorrow for an article on the new “cloud” music services that have been announced recently by Amazon, Google and Apple!