As reported last week, Martin Freeman will get the biggest role of his career, leading the cast as Bilbo Baggins and joining him on the journey are a host of lesser known thespians. Richard Armitage ("Spooks," "Captain America: The First Avenger") will play Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarves which sets off to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a thieving dragon. Aidan Turner ("Being Human") and Rob Kazinsky ("EastEnders") will play Kili and Fili, members of the Company of Dwarves. Graham McTavish ("Secretariat") will play Dwalin, John Callen ("Power Rangers Jungle Fury") will play Oin; Stephen Hunter ("All Saints") will play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow ("King Kong") plays Dori, while Peter Hambleton ("The Strip") will play Gloin. If you don't know their faces yet, you will very soon.
Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis aren't in the first round of confirmed casting, but they are expected to be signing on. Stephen Fry and Saoirse Ronan are apparently up for parts and Bill Nighy may join as the voice of Smaug the Dragon, and the role of the Elf King is still open (Deadline says Aidan Turner is linked to the part, but he's also playing Kili; mixup or is he playing two parts?). And confirming earlier reports, James Nesbitt and David Tennant are both up for parts, with the former being offered Bofur last we heard.
Wow, so big news from Middle Earth and the exact bit of positive, forward momentum news this project has needed in months. Filming is set to begin in February with release dates of December 2012 and December 2013 penciled in.