Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ian McKellen & Andy Serkis Officially Sign On For 'The Hobbit'

 
Ian McKellen & Andy Serkis will reprise their roles as Gandalf the Grey and Gollum for Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit.' Here is the official press release stating the return of Serkis and Elijah Wood who will reprise his role as Frodo Baggins:
Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis are set to join the cast of Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic “The Hobbit.” The films, which are scheduled to commence principal photography in February 2011, mark Jackson’s return to Middle-earth following his Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The announcement was made jointly today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema, Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros. and Steve Cooper, co-Chief Executive Officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Jackson, who directed all three “Lord of the Rings” films, will helm the two films back-to-back, telling the story of “The Hobbit” in two parts from a screenplay by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro.

Elijah Wood (“The Lord of The Rings” trilogy, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) will be returning to play Frodo Baggins the young cousin of Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis (“The Lord of The Rings” trilogy, “King Kong”) will be returning to play the character Gollum.

Peter Jackson welcomed the two back. "I cannot imagine returning to Middle-earth without these two wonderful actors. We began this journey together ten years ago and I couldn't be more thrilled to be working with Elijah and Andy again."

The actors join the previously announced cast including Martin Freeman (TV’s “Sherlock,” “Breaking and Entering”) as Bilbo Baggins, Cate Blanchett (“Lord of The Rings” trilogy, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Ken Stott (“Charlie Wilson’s War”, TV’s “Rebus”), Sylvester McCoy (TV’s “Doctor Who”), Mikael Persbrandt (“Everlasting Moments”, “Day and Night”). Ryan Gage (“Outlaw”, TV’s “Doctors”). Richard Armitage (upcoming “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Aidan Turner (TV’s “Being Human”), Rob Kazinsky (TVs “EastEnders”), Graham McTavish (“Secretariat”), John Callen (TV’s “Power Rangers Jungle Fury”), Stephen Hunter (TV’s “All Saints”), Mark Hadlow (“King Kong”) and Peter Hambleton (TV’s “The Strip”). Additional cast announcements include James Nesbitt (“Millions” and TV’s “Cold Feet”) Jed Brophy (“Lord of The Rings” trilogy, “District 9”), William Kircher (“Out of the Blue”) and newcomer Adam Brown.

Since “The Hobbit” films received a green light on October 15, pre-production has been in full swing with release dates targeted for December, 2012 and December, 2013. Jackson will utilize groundbreaking visual effects and his incomparable storytelling to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel to the big screen. Both “Hobbit” movies will be filmed in Digital 3-D, using the latest camera and stereo technology to create a high quality, comfortable viewing experience.

The two films are being co-produced by New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production, Warner Bros Pictures handling domestic distribution and MGM distributing internationally.

Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing the films, with co-writer Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner as executive producers. The Oscar-winning, critically acclaimed “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, also from the production team of Jackson, Walsh and Cunningham, grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box office.. In 2003, “The Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the 11 categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.
Ian McKellen has updated his official site with the following statement:
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 Part One, written with the LOTR writing team. It was true to the style, the fun and the romance of the trilogy.

When Peter Jackson, already producing, resumed the director’s chair, he kept me in touch with developments. A second screenplay was sent over, on the understanding that I would not talk about what I read in it.

After the ruckus over trade union expectations and unlikely rumours of filming outside New Zealand, suddenly crucial casting was announced, plus a start date in February 2011. Martin Freeman as Bilbo sounds perfect. As my agent continued to negotiate with Warner Brothers, I kept wondering was Gandalf what I most wanted to do, more than a new play for instance or indeed a new part? Sequels aren’t necessarily as rewarding to act in as their originals.

Could I let Gandalf go? Would anyone else care if I did? Elsewhere, does anyone care that Michael Gambon was not the first to play Dumbledore?

The deciding negotiation was not about money but about dates. Gandalf is needed on set over the next 18 months but with sizeable breaks when I can work on other projects. My worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted.

I am happy to say I start filming in Wellington on February 21 2011.

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