James NesbittHere's a tip: If you want to get to know the actors who will be playing key dwarves in Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit,' start watching more British television. Martin Freeman, who has been cast as Bilbo Baggins, has been absolutely smashing as a modern-day Dr. Watson in Brit TV series 'Sherlock.' Now he's being joined by James Nesbitt, who was absolutely mesmerizing as a modern-day 'Jekyll' in the 2007 Brit TV show of the same name (pictured). Nesbitt will play a dwarf named Bofur, according to Heat Vision, which also reports that Adam Brown will play Ori, a dragon-fighting dwarf.

Brown appears to be an unknown commodity, but Nesbitt has built a solid career over more than 20 years of acting. He's probably most familiar in the US for playing a passionate civil rights leader in Paul Greengrass' 'Bloody Sunday' and as a father still grieving for his late wife in Danny Boyle's 'Millions.' Bofur accompanies Bilbo and Thorin (Richard Armitage) on an important quest, and so the addition of Nesbitt in what looks like a major supporting role is good news for fans.

Still up in the air? Gandalf.

It's long been rumored / assumed / hoped that Ian McKellan would reprise his role as the immortal wizard Gandalf. (In fact, one report claimed that McKellan had been confirmed as being cast more than a year ago.) Yet he recently told Broadway World that he was not currently under contract for the film. He declined to speak further about it, saying that it "might complicate things."

So, take that for what you will. Negotiations for actors often last right up until filming begins, sometimes leaving holes that aren't filled until shooting is well underway. 'The Hobbit' is still in pre-production and there's plenty of time to get everything settled for McKellan to join Bilbo and friends.

As the cast gets firmed up, how are you feeling about 'The Hobbit'? More excited or less? Dubious or dismissive?