After 266 days of shooting and months of editing, the first installment of director Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” is finally set to hit theaters Friday.
Like his previous adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which take place 60 years after the events of “The Hobbit,” Jackson has spared no detail in telling the classic tale of Bilbo Baggins, an ordinary hobbit asked to go on an extraordinary journey. In addition to painstakingly recreating almost all the iconic characters and scenes from Tolkien’s tome, Jackson has also filled the film -- and its two forthcoming sequels, set for 2013 and 2014 releases -- with details from Tolkien’s later writings about Middle Earth, including “The Silmarillion,” “Unfinished Tales” and appendices to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
The wide cast of characters centers around a group of 13 dwarves, who recruit Bilbo to join their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom and treasure. In a video diary released during production of the film, Jackson joked that the prospect of dealing with such a large band of characters was “one of the reasons why I dreaded (adapting) ‘The Hobbit,’” but he eventually overcame that trepidation, and said bringing the dwarves to life “turned out to be one of the joys of the film.”
To help moviegoers keep all those dwarves straight -- and introduce the rest of the sprawling cast -- we’ve assembled a guide to the major characters in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman)
Bilbo loves nothing more than the familiar comforts of his home at Bag End, and recoils at Gandalf’s suggestion that he join the dwarves’ quest, explaining that hobbits are “plain folk and have no use for adventures.” But the dwarves convince him to reconsider, citing Gandalf’s recommendation of Bilbo’s skills as a burglar (of which Bilbo claims he has none), and Bilbo begrudgingly joins the group, enticed by the opportunity of a lifetime. Soon, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE">says Freeman</a>, Bilbo “finds a bravery that he didn’t know he had.”
Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen)
One of five wizards of Middle Earth, Gandalf is tasked with finding a 14th member of the dwarves’ party, and recruits a reluctant Bilbo for the job. Though he accompanies the group on part of their journey -- and uses his powers to help them out of trouble more than once -- Gandalf soon leaves them to explore suspicions of growing evil in Middle Earth, which are discussed among members of the White Council in Rivendell.
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)
Thorin is a dwarf prince descended from a long line of kings, and the leader of a group of 13 dwarves on a mission to take back their kingdom of Erebor, which was destroyed by the dragon Smaug. Thorin watched as Smaug killed many of his people and hoarded their bountiful treasure, sending survivors into exile and fueling his desire for revenge. “He’s gone from prince to pauper, and he’s a battle-hardened warrior,” <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE">says Armitage</a>. “He has a fierce sense of honor, but … his outer shell is pretty impenetrable.”
Balin (Ken Stott)
The second oldest dwarf in the group of 13, Balin often keeps watch while on the journey. He’s a brother to Dwalin and a relative of Thorin, a Dwarf Lord and one of Thorin’s most trusted advisors. Wise, gentle and loyal, Balin secretly has doubts about the group’s quest.
Dwalin (Graham McTavish)
Balin’s brother, Dwalin is known as a fierce warrior. “They’re the kind of people you’d want on your side in a fight,” <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE">says McTavish of dwarves</a>. Dwalin is brave and proud and speaks his mind freely, and distrusts anyone who isn’t a dwarf, especially elves.
Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Bifur (William Kircher)
<strong>Bombur (Stephen Hunter)</strong> The dwarf with the largest girth, Bombur is on the receiving end of some teasing from his fellow travelers when his size causes problems for the group. The resident cook, he’s brother to Bofur and cousin to Bifur. <strong>Bofur (James Nesbitt)</strong> Bofur loves singing and making music -- he plays the clarinet -- and is the brother of Bombur and cousin of Bifur. Optimistic, endearing and known to blurt things out without thinking, Bofur isn’t especially brave, but joined the quest for the Lonely Mountain to seek his part of the fortune. <strong>Bifur (William Kircher)</strong> A cousin of Bofur and Bombur, Bifur has one of the most striking physical characteristics of all the dwarves: an axe embedded in his forehead. While that limits his ability to communicate outside grunts and hand gestures, he’s considered feisty.
Fili (Dean O’Gorman), Kili (Aidan Turner)
<strong>Fili (Dean O’Gorman)</strong> Fili, the second-youngest member of the group, is the older brother of Kili and Thorin’s nephew. He’s never seen the Kingdom of Erebor, having been born after it was taken by Smaug, but joins the quest despite his youth and inexperience. <strong>Kili (Aidan Turner)</strong> Thorin’s nephew and Fili’s brother, Kili is the youngest member of the dwarves’ group. His character <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6kbDyPhx2w&list=UU64TPBGPU1aPrSxIDYkNGpA&index=11">has been described by members of the cast as</a> “the sexy one,” and the actors have joked that if there were a boy band in Middle Earth, Kili would be its leader. Not just a pretty face, Kili is also a skilled archer, and determined to prove himself.
Oin (John Callen), Gloin (Peter Hambleton)
<strong>Oin (John Callen)</strong> Oin and his brother Gloin are distant cousins of Thorin. Well-read and curious, Oin is known for his ability to make healing herbal salves. He joined the quest out of loyalty to his people – and the large monetary investment he’s made in the journey. <strong>Gloin (Peter Hambleton)</strong> Brother to Oin and cousin of Thorin, Gloin is the most outspoken member of the group, and is skeptical of Bilbo’s abilities at first. He’s known in the book for his skill at making fires. He’s also the father of Gimli, the dwarf who features prominently in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Nori (Jed Brophy), Ori (Adam Brown), Dori (Mark Hadlow)
<strong>Nori (Jed Brophy)</strong> Quick-witted and wily, Nori is brother to Dori and Ori, and joins the quest to evade the dwarvish authorities, with whom he always seems to be in trouble. He’s known to be elusive and dodgy, and prone to clashing with his brothers. <strong>Ori (Adam Brown)</strong> Ori is the youngest sibling of Nori and Dori, and a talented artist who chronicles the group’s journey. He’s polite but courageous. <strong>Dori (Mark Hadlow)</strong> Dori is the older brother of Nori and Ori, and a distant relative to Thorin. He’s the strongest member of the group, but also extremely pessimistic, and constantly looking out for Ori.
Elrond (Hugo Weaving)
The elf lord who rules Rivendell, Elrond and his people host Gandalf, Bilbo and the dwarves early on in their journey. Rivendell provides the setting for the White Council to convene, where Elrond, Gandalf and Saruman discuss a growing darkness in Middle Earth. Jackson referred to the council as “the United Nations of Middle Earth,” and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5gk9qFsDE">Weaving has said it</a> “play(s) a role in illuminating the broader political landscape” of the films.
Galadriel (Cate Blanchette)
Elf royalty in her own right, Galadriel is present for the White Council meeting at Rivendell, and speaks privately to Gandalf about her concerns over the growth of evil in Middle Earth, and its apparent source. She possesses the gift of foresight.
Saruman the White (Christopher Lee)
A member of the White Council that meets at Rivendell, Saruman is the source of some suspicion among his fellow council members. One of the wizards of Middle Earth, Saruman is also one of the villains of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Gollum (Andy Serkis)
This iconic character from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy makes his debut in “The Hobbit.” Described in the book as “a small and slimy creature,” Gollum has a penchant for talking to himself, saying things like “my precious” and adding extra S’s to words. Bilbo stumbles upon Gollum when he’s lost in the goblins’ caves, and must solve a host of Gollum’s riddles if he wants to escape alive. Gollum eventually realizes that Bilbo has found and kept his ring -- the One Ring to rule them all -- which sets in motion the events of “The Lord of the Rings.”
Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy)
Radagast is given only a passing mention in the book -- he’s a wizard who lives on the southern border of Mirkwood, and is Gandalf’s cousin -- but plays a larger role in the film. According <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTUQi8HBlg4">to one crew member,</a> Radagast is “a lovely spirited wizard,” and an animal-loving, forest-dwelling hermit who senses a dark change in Middle Earth when trees and animals begin dying in his forest.
Great Goblin (Barry Humphries)
While seeking shelter from a storm, Bilbo and the dwarves accidentally stumble upon the lair of the Great Goblin and his followers, and are captured. A great battle -- one that was expanded for the film -- ensues.
Bert, William and Tom (Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton and William Kircher)
These three trolls have cockney accents and the plainest-sounding names in all of Middle Earth, but they’re anything but ordinary. The group of 14 stumbles upon the trolls’ campfire near the start of the journey, and a fight soon breaks out. Jackson calls this encounter one of the most iconic scenes in the book.