By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 19, 2011 at 1:02AM
"The Hobbit" has been filming for over a month now -- indeed, the film's Bilbo Baggins, Martin Freeman, has finished his first block of shooting, and departed back to the U.K. to film the second season of "Sherlock." But that doesn't mean that the casting process has wrapped up -- not entirely surprising, for a film with fourteen months of filming scheduled. Director Peter Jackson's confirmed that one key role has been filled by an iconic British figure who's been linked to the film for some time.
The director's revealed on his Facebook page -- it's how all the cool kids make their casting announcement these days -- that English national treasure and polymath Stephen Fry has been cast in the key role of the Master of Laketown in the "Lord of the Rings" prequel. The character is a greedy, but mostly benevolvent, ruler of a trading town of men that's plagued by attacks by an evil dragon, Smaug.
Fry started out in the Cambridge Footlights alongside the likes of Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, and went on to comedy roles on TV, like in "Blackadder" and "Jeeves and Wooster." Since then, he's broadened his horizons, as a novelist, as a TV host of quiz shows, travel programmes and documentaries, as well as being a screenwriter and director, making his debut on the underrated Evelyn Waugh adaptation "Bright Young Things," and one of the most influential figures on Twitter, with a whopping two and a half million followers.
But he's never left acting behind, appearing recently in "V For Vendetta," "Alice in Wonderland" and as Mycroft Holmes in Guy Ritchie's upcoming "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," and he's been linked to "The Hobbit" as far back as last year, though things have only solidified now. He's a perfect fit for J.R.R. Tolkien's world, so much so that we're surprised he didn't crop up in the original trilogy.
Jackson also revealed that British actor Ryan Gage, who's appeared on stage opposite David Tennant in "Hamlet," and in the hit show "Ghost Stories," has been cast as Fry's assistant Alfrid, while man-mountain Conan Stevens, who was seen last Sunday decapitating a motherfucking horse as Gregor Clegane on HBO's excellent "Game of Thrones," will play an orc named Azog.
By our count, there are two major roles yet to be revealed: the voice of Smaug, linked to Ron Perlman and Bill Nighy in the past, and Bard the Bowman, the human archer who brings down the dragon. We're sure it won't be tong before Jackson's posting on his Facebook once again.