"I don't know where that [rumor] came from," Townsend said with a laugh. "It's not true at all. 'Internet' and 'truth' aren't two words that generally work together."
Apparently, 'LOTR' fan site TheOneRing.net published an April Fool's article that stated Townsend would be appearing in the latest film; it was meant to be an inside joke for 'LOTR' fans who knew that Townsend was originally cast as Aragorn in the trilogy, before Viggo Mortensen replaced him. Not realizing the article was fictitious, several other outlets picked it up as fact.
It was rumored that Townsend would play "Bard, a skilled archer and the heir of Girion, the last king of Dale. He was described as 'grim-faced' and has a large role with Smaug, the dragon."
A casting director named Thomas Williams (pretty generic, don't you think?) was quoted as saying, "This is a great chance for Stuart to return to Middle-earth and bring his immeasurable talents to the production."
The article was given some credibility because it also refers to 'Hanna' star Saoirse Ronan, who has actually been cast as Itaril in 'The Hobbit.' So it looks like Townsend won't be donning any bard gear after all.