By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 2, 2011 at 6:00AM
Check out the latest updates and a selection of the faces (some still unconfirmed) on The Hobbit production currently underway in New Zealand.
UPDATE: Peter Jackson announces the addition of Evangeline Lilly (Lost) and Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna). Lilly will play brand new character Tauriel, a Woodland Elf. Humphries will play Gorkin The Goblin King, a role Jackson says will be played similarly to how Andy Serkis brought Gollum to life. Gorkin is also a new character, having only appeared in the LOTR video game based on Jackson's trilogy. Here's more.
From our earlier stories and casting updates:
Luke Evans signs on to play Bard. Bard is an archer and heir to King Girion of Dale, He will reportedly play a larger part in the second of the two Hobbit films.
Benedict Cumberbatch is joining the cast in an unidentified role. Cumberbatch's career is looking good: The Brit (who played Paul Marshall in Atonement) will also appear in the upcoming Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy, War Horse and Joe Wright's Anna Karenina.
British actor Stephen Fry will play Master of Laketown in The Hobbit.
Saoirse Ronan will not appear in The Hobbit, due to the time commitment. She says; "Because I would have been working for about a year on it and there were other projects that I was very interested in [she's been cast in The Host], but Pete and [his producer wife] Fran have been very good about it and very understanding...I'll have to just go back down to New Zealand for a holiday and hang out with the hobbits."
Peter Jackson announces on his Facebook page that New Zealander Dean O'Gorman will play Fili (replacing Rob Kazinski, who left for personal reasons) and Lee Pace has signed on to play Elven King Thranduil. Jackson says: "Casting these Tolkien stories is very difficult, especially the Elven characters, and Lee has always been our first choice for Thranduil. He's going to be great." Jackson also posted a picture of him and Hugo Weaving, who played Elrond in the LOTR series and whom we hope will appear in The Hobbit.
- Martin Freeman "was born to play [the] role" of Bilbo Baggins, says Jackson. Plus, his band of Hobbits.
- Confirmed: Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
- Orlando Bloom confirmed for Legolas.
- Saoirse Ronan hopes Peter Jackson has a part for her (Itaril).
- Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords is playing an elf.
- Mikael Persbrandt, the star of Susanne Bier's Oscar winning In A Better World is playing Beorn, a skin-changer who takes the shape of a black bear.
- Ian Holm will reprise his role as an old Bilbo Baggins.
[Pictured: Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Saoirse Ronan, Mikael Persbrandt, Dean O'Gorman, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Bret McKenzie, Lee Pace]