A Quick Dose of Hobbit Casting News *UPDATED*
Just a short update today: I heard about a few interesting casting announcements for the two upcoming Hobbit films, and I figured I'd write them up for you to digest. The first provides some key details to a casting decision leaked some time ago, and the second surrounds a character who some might call "The Hobbit's Aragorn": Bard the Bowman! UPDATE (June 20): Another cast member has been announced on Peter Jackson's Facebook page. Read on for all the juicy details, and leave your reaction below!
First off, I wrote several weeks ago that Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of BBC's Sherlock, had been cast in the Peter Jackson two-part adaptation, but we didn't know who he would be playing. Deadline reveals that he's been cast as the voice of two evil characters in the movies: the Necromancer (a.k.a. Sauron) and the dragon Smaug the Golden (via voice acting and motion capture, the way Andy Serkis plays Smeagol/Gollum). I'm guessing that if the structure of the novel is any indication, the Necromancer may become a secondary villain in the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Smaug will be one of the major antagonists of the second, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
However it works out, it will be exciting to hear Cumberbatch as these two classic enemies, and fun for fans of Sherlock to see Smaug have his exchange with Bilbo (played by Martin Freeman, who portrays Dr. Watson opposite Cumberbatch's Holmes on Sherlock). Before Cumberbatch hits screens in the Hobbit films, we'll next see him in Steven Spielberg's War Horse, a historical drama set in World War I, and in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a film adaptation of the John le Carré spy novel.
Following that, it looks like Luke Evans will be playing Bard the Bowman, the skilled archer descended from King Girion of Dale, the city of Men near the Lonely Mountain. Girion was killed by Smaug when the dragon arrived and sacked Dale, and Bard plays a major role in opposing Smaug and trying to warn the people of Lake-Town that Smaug is still a threat.
The news of Evans' casting as Bard also comes to us from Deadline. Evans played the Greek god Apollo in the 2010 Clash of the Titans remake, and will play a young version of Zeus in the upcoming Tarsem Singh film Immortals, with Henry Cavill (the new Superman) as Theseus and Mickey Rourke as the evil King Hyperion. Evans' work as Apollo didn't end up being used much in Clash of the Titans, although you can see a number of interesting deleted scenes with Apollo in the bonus features of the DVD/Blu-ray. Despite Evans' apparent interest in playing Greek gods, I can see him as Bard - he seems well-suited to the lone warrior routine. If you want a taste of him as a swordsman, he'll be playing Aramis in the upoming Paul W.S. Anderson The Three Musketeers remake - but the trailer suggests that movie might be a little bit too ridiculous for its own good.
UPDATE: I found out today via a post on Peter Jackson's Facebook page that Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost) will be joining the films as an Elf named Tauriel. Jackson describes Tauriel as a Sylvan Elf (also spelled Silvan), whose name means "daughter of Mirkwood". In the books, Sylvan elves were wood-elves who usually lived in forest communities like Mirkwood or Lothlorien. Jackson was quick to add in his post that "No, there is no romantic connection to Legolas", but I'm sure the fan-fictions will start popping up anyways.
Regular readers know that I can hardly write a post without mentioning Lost, and so the news that a star from the show is joining another project near to my heart is pretty fantastic. Lilly frequently impressed me with her work as Kate in Lost, especially in the flashback scenes dealing with her (sorta-spoiler!) criminal past. She didn't have many significant film or TV credits to her name before Lost, but she'll appear next in this fall's sci-fi/action movie Real Steel (that's the one about the giant remote-controlled boxing robots) as the ex-wife of the main character played by Hugh Jackman . Like Luke Evans, I can picture Lilly in the role - and I'm sure the fanboys will go mad for her dressed as an Elf (myself included).
What do you think of these casting announcements? Will Cumberbatch, Evans and Lilly fit into their roles? Will you check out any of their upcoming projects to prepare yourself for their performances in the Hobbit films? Sound off in the comments!