He may not know where he'll be shooting 'The Hobbit,' but Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have announced a slew of cast members for the back-to-back films scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013.
As reported and rumored here and elsewhere, Martin Freeman will star as Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage will play head dwarf Thorin Oakenshield. Other cast members -- all of them to play dwarves -- include Rob Kazinsky, Aidan Turner, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton.
According to TheWrap, Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are also expected to reprise their respective roles as the powerful wizard Gandalf and the wretch Gollum.
'The Hobbit' received its greenlight on Oct. 15 and pre-production is moving ahead at a fast pace.
"Despite the various rumors and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us," 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."
Jackson added that Armitage "is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle-earth is in such good hands."
The two 'Hobbit' movies are being co-produced by New Line and MGM, with New Line handling production, Warner Bros. Pictures distributing domestically and MGM handling international distribution.