By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 2, 2011 at 1:48AM
Considering its long, troubled pre-production beset by delays, a change of director, and even health problems for Peter Jackson, we're glad that filming on "The Hobbit" has now commenced and things seem to be running fairly smoothly. With one exception, that is: last weekend, it was announced that British actor Rob Kazinsky had dropped out of the film. Kazinsky had been cast as Fili, one of the 13 dwarves that accompany Bilbo Baggins on his quest, but withdrew due to "health issues," although it's worth noting that Jackson has recast on his films before, replacing Stuart Townsend with Viggo Mortensen on "Lord of the Rings," and Ryan Gosling with Mark Wahlberg on "The Lovely Bones."
By all accounts, though, it wasn't a crippling problem, and the director's announced on his Facebook page that he's already found a replacement, and he's also added another cast member to the epic project. Jackson confirmed that the hole left by Kazinsky has been filled by New Zealander Dean O'Gorman, who'll take over the role of Fili. The 34-year-old has credits stretching back 15 years, mostly in Southern Hemisphere-lensed genre TV, including a recurring role, coincidentally opposite Gosling, in "Young Hercules."
He's gained some attention in New Zealand recently as a regular on the TV series "The Almighty Johnsons," which involves a regular family who discover that they're reincarnations of Norse gods, and also stars "Whale Rider" Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes. Fans of the show should be reassured that "The Hobbit" schedule won't prevent O'Gorman from participating in the second season, which will film later in the year -- the filming schedule has been designed to allow lead Martin Freeman to return to the U.K. to film the second series of "Sherlock," which we assume is what enables O'Gorman to do the same with his show.
Furthermore, Jackson also announced that he's found an actor to play the key supporting role of Thraindull, the Elven king who captures Bilbo and his band, in the form of American actor Lee Pace. The actor's been turning heads for some time now, both with his leading role in Tarsem's "The Fall" (which the director names as the film that landed Pace the job), and with the TV series "Pushing Daisies," and we named him as one of our On The Rise actors last year off the back of his hilarious turn in Max Winkler's "Ceremony."
It isn't the actor's first brush with franchise territory -- he's playing the role of good vampire Garrett in both parts of the "Twilight" finale, "Breaking Dawn" -- but this will easily be his highest profile role to date. It seems safe to assume, considering Pace's look, that this is the role that either or both Michael Fassbender and David Tennant were being pursued for, but with Fassbender increasingly in demand, he's out of the running, and if Tennant's still going to be involved, it'll be in a different role.
We're certainly glad that Pace has got such a big role, and hope it leads to even better things for him, and we're also pleased that Jackson was able to fill Kazinsky's shoes so quickly. Fingers crossed that it's smooth sailing for "The Hobbit" between now and the December 2012 release of its first part.