While Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. deal with the issue of whether or not to shoot The Hobbit in New Zealand, the director has confirmed the casting of the film. (UPDATE: Video of Jackson and co-producer and co-writer Philippa Boyens’ NZ TV interview below.)
Martin Freeman “was born to play [the] role” of Bilbo Baggins, says Jackson. You’ll recognize Freeman from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz, and the UK’s original series The Office, in which he played the equivalent of John Krasinski’s role (but British and eight inches shorter). Richard Armitage (who will appear in Captain America: The First Avenger) will play Thorin Oakenshield, a dwarf leader (interesting, since he’s 6’2”). The rest of the dwarves will be played by Irish
Aiden Aidan Turner (in the role of “Kili”; of TV’s Being Human), Rob Kazinsky (“Fili”; of TV’s EastEnders and also a champion swordfighter, so watch out Goblins), Graham McTavish (“Dwalin”; Secretariat, 24), John Callen (“Oin”; Power Rangers Jungle Fury [no other picture available]), Stephen Hunter (“Bombur”; All Saints), Mark Hadlow (“Dori”; King Kong), and Peter Hambleton (“Gloin”; The Strip [no picture available]).
Tomorrow will be a good day for New Zealand cinema as citizens distract themselves from The Hobbit filming fracas with the prideful re-opening of the southern hemisphere’s oldest purpose-build cinema in Devonport (near Auckland, on the North Island) which intends to screen both mainstream and art house fare through the Victoria Theatre Trust, which will lease the building from the area’s city council for the next thirty-three years. The cinema opened in 1912, and tomorrow marks the cinemas’s 98th birthday. Throughout the day there will be local school children performing in the downstairs theatre while New Zealand shorts will screen upstairs, then a party will follow hosted by Outrageous Fortune star Robin Malcolm. This makes me happy for New Zealand, which I called home for three years.
Here’s a good rundown of the New Zealand labor dispute, and a NZ TV interview with Jackson and Boyens: