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Ian McKellen Explains Middle Earth Muddle

Mike Fleming

Ian McKellen, who along with Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett formalized his return to Middle Earth to reprise his The Lord of the Rings character Gandalf, has taken to his own blog to explain why his deal took so long. I’m still waiting for formal word on Christopher Lee to bring back Saruman, Ian Holm to do a small turn reprising an older Bilbo Baggins, and possibly Orlando Bloom to return as Legolas for director Peter Jackson. There might even be word on Hugo Weaving and his Elrond character. What I most love about McKellen’s missive is that a 71-year old brilliant actor takes the time to write his own blog, adding hot links (something I’m still getting the hang of). Here is McKellen’s dispatch:

All I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given me.

I’m 71 and fit: though at my age who knows what accident is ’round the next corner?  For a year or more, I have been arranging my professional commitments around the possibility of The Hobbit films starting at almost anytime.  We brought the Waiting for Godot tour of Australia to New Zealand early 2010, assuming I would stay on to start shooting soon after.  Then there was yet another delay: but in Wellington I met with Guillermo del Toro and later read his script for … Read More »

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Andy Serkis Signed As Gollum In ‘Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Andy Serkis has closed his deal to bring back Gollum in The Hobbit, the two films that Peter Jackson will direct in New Zealand starting in February. Serkis will join returning cast members Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood. Wood’s participation was made official last week after Deadline first revealed his negotiations. According to sources, others who appeared in The Lord of the Rings poised to return at this point include Ian McKellen (who’s still working out a deal to return as Gandalf in a major role),  Christopher Lee is in talks to reprise the wizard Saruman, and Ian Holm to return as an older version of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman is playing that title role in the two new movies). I’ve written in the past about a possible reprise of Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, but it’s unclear at this point if he’ll be back.

There was no confirmation from the Serkis’ camp, but the character certainly fits a small but important role in the storyline of the JRR Tolkien book. Bilbo is on an epic quest with Gandalf and 13 dwarves led by their King, Thorin Oakenshield, to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and strike down the talking dragon Smaug (I’d heard last year Bill Nighy was a possible to voice Smaug, but have heard nothing since). During that journey, Bilbo wanders into Gollum’s lair and finds the Ring of Power. Serkis will likely be there early in the … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Elijah Wood Back For ‘The Hobbit’

By | Friday January 7, 2011 @ 5:22pm PST
Mike Fleming

In Thursday’s story about Warner Bros fully financing and distributing The Hobbit worldwide, Deadline revealed that Elijah Wood was in talks to bring his Frodo character back to Middle Earth. His reps announced it tonight. Here’s the official word:

Wood is confirmed to star in Peter Jackson’s “THE HOBBIT” to be shot in New Zealand. In addition, he has signed on to play “Ben Gunn” in Stewart Harcourt’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s TREASURE ISLAND along side Eddie Izzard. The 2 part/ 4 hour miniseries will be airing on SKY TV in the UK. Alan Moloney is producing with Steve Barron directing.

Wood will next be seen this summer in FX’s new series “Wilfred”, as well as lending his voice to Warner Bros. “Happy Feet 2” set for release November 18th as well as Disney XD’s “Tron: Uprising” (2012), In addition, he is starring in the Sundance short “Fight for your Right Revisited” directed by Adam Yauch and starring John C. Reilly and Seth Rogen.

Wood is repped by Nicole David at WME and Joanne Colonna at Brillstein Partners.

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Orlando Bloom Close To Legolas Reprise In ‘The Hobbit?’

Mike Fleming

After New Line Cinema announced Cate Blanchett’s return to Middle Earth for ‘The Hobbit,’ I’m told that Orlando Bloom will likely be the next original cast member set for an encore. He’s near a deal to return as Elven archer Legolas. And it’s for more than a cameo, I’m told. I’d have expected them to first set Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Andy Serkis (Gollum) or Hugo Weaving (Elrond), whose characters figured in the book. But those talks have been arduous and aren’t completed yet.

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Cate Blanchett Back To Middle Earth For ‘The Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

Cate Blanchett is returning as Galadriel in The Hobbit, which Peter Jackson directs in February. Jackson has also set Ken Stott (Charlie Wilson’s War) to play Dwarf Lord Balin, Sylvester McCoy (Dr. Who) to play the wizard Radagast the Brown, and Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt (Day and Night) to play shape-shifter Beorn. Ryan Gage (Outlaw) will play Drogo Baggins and Jed Brophy (who appeared in the original The Lord of the Rings) will play the dwarf Nori, and William Kircher will play the dwarf Bifur.

On Blanchett’s return as the ethereal Lady of Lothlorien, Jackson said: “Cate if one of my favorite actors to work with and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her reprise the role she so beautifully brought to life in the earlier films.”

Jackson–who wrote the script with Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro–previously announced that Martin Freeman will play Bilbo Baggins. Blanchett likely won’t be the only returning cast member. Ian McKellen is expected to reprise Gandalf and Andy Serkis is expected to bring back Gollum. The film’s being made by New Line as a co-production between Warner Bros and MGM.

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TOLDJA! James Nesbitt Lands ‘The Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

LOS ANGELES November 1, 2010 – British actor James Nesbitt (Millions and TV’s Cold Feet), is the latest actor to join the ensemble cast of The Hobbit, it was jointly announced today by New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, and MGM.
Nesbitt will play Bofur, a disarmingly forthright, funny and occasionally brave Dwarf. “James’s charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast,” said director Peter Jackson. Newcomer Adam Brown will play Ori, another of the Dwarf Company which sets out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the infamous dragon, Smaug.

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Peter Jackson Sets First Names For ‘The Hobbit’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: While Peter Jackson and Warner Bros are figuring out where they’ll shoot back-to-back installments of The Hobbit, Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have begun to set his cast for the ambitious projects that will begin shooting in February for release in December 2012 and 2013. The castings were announced by New Line Cinema COO/president Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros COO/president Alan Horn, MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper, and Jackson. As Deadline told you last week, Martin Freeman is set to play Bilbo Baggins, the adventurous Hobbit whose adventures and discovery of the One Ring leads the story up to The Lord of the Rings. Freeman has appeared in films ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Hot Fuzz to  Love Actually. Read More »

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‘The Hobbit’ Finally Filming In February, But Peter Jackson & Actor Unions Still At Odds

UPDATE: Things must be getting close on The Hobbit, because casting buzz is getting strong in Hollywood. Word is Martin Freeman will soon be set to play Bilbo Baggins, that Jimmy Nesbitt has been offered a role and that Michael Fassbender is being pursued for another as is David Tennant. Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are expected to reprise Gandalf and Gollum.

EARLIER: While it looks like production on The Hobbit is set to start in February on the pair of films directed by Peter Jackson, there are still a few giant issues standing in the way. The films had to go in early 2011 to make the holiday release date. But even though the production schedule looks locked, there’s still the issue of the loud labor fight happening between Jackson and the unions, which have told performers outright not to work on the film because it’s a non-union production. By agreeing to a detente, the films would indeed get underway in New Zealand in early 2011. The delay has also been caused by all the ongoing problems at MGM, and just this week Lionsgate put forth a merger recommendation which Carl Icahn backs. That would obviously affect the pending Spyglass deal  – and add more drama to any major production going forward. (Meanwhile, while MGM goes through all of its tumult, Mary Parent is expectedly in the process of leaving the studio, which she has run for almost three years.) Read More »

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