Peter Jackson announced this week that they're throwing the nets wide when casting the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel movie based on The Hobbit. Every single role is up for grabs. Well, every role except the one no one other than Ian McKellen could fill: Gandalf.
"Apart from Ian McKellen, who we obviously want to return as Gandalf, we are not really offering any roles to anybody until we've done a casting sweep," Jackson said, quashing the Web rumors that James McAvoy was offered a key role, possibly Bilbo. (And, as reported on here back in October, John Rhys-Davies refuses to come back as a dwarf.)
According to Heat Vision Blog, Jackson prefers to do broad searches, in an effort to better match actors with roles.
"What we've done over the years is discover a lot of interesting actors, like Orlando Bloom (in Rings), Kate Winslet (in Heavenly Creatures), Saoirse Ronan (in The Lovely Bones). So if you start looking and auditioning seriously, it's amazing what incredible talent you'll find out there." ...
"(These movies) have never been a star-driven vehicle. The star is (author J.R.R.) Tolkien and the world he created. We are not under any pressure. We want to find the right people. Casting someone to portray a hobbit is not as easy as you might imagine. They have to have a particular type of physical appearance and a sensibility. And the same with an elf or a dwarf. These are fantastical characters, but you've got to find the right people to play them, the right humans to translate these characters."
Shooting for the two-part The Hobbit is planned to start in 2010.
Which brings us to the question at hand: Who would YOU cast to go there and back again?
Push for Ian Holm to return, despite his age, and bank on makeup and effects to give him the Fountain of Youth treatment the younger Bilbo would need? Or are there young actors, currently working, who could fill the small shoes of hobbits and dwarves? Zachary Levi (Chuck)? Joshua Jackson (Fringe)? Seth Green (Family Guy)? Robert Sean Leonard (House)? Simon Baker (The Mentalist)? One hobbit and 13 dwarves: That's a lot of shoes to fill.