Legendary movie maker Peter Jackson has announced that the lead role in his up-coming version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” will be played by British actor Martin Freeman, best known from the British version of the television series “The Office”.
Martin Freeman will play the part of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who true to form is about as synonymous with having adventures as chalk is to cheese. But then one day a stranger pays a visit, the wizard Gandalf, and Bilbo ends up setting out on a quest and having the adventure of a lifetime.
The Hobbit is the prequel to Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and although it was only written as one book, the many adventures that Bilbo Baggins and his companions have along the way, with Orcs, Goblins and Dragons, are worthy of this story being turned into a two part movie, and this is in fact what Peter Jackson has been planning.
Martin takes over the role of the younger Bilbo Baggins from Ian Holm, who appeared as Bilbo in the first and third parts of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson said when the announcement was made that “He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave – exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit”.
The other main characters will be played by relatively unknown actors. The company of Dwarves will be led by Richard Armitage (from television’s MI-5) who will play Thorin Oakenshield, accompanied by Rob Kazinsky, Aidan Turner, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton.
Trouble has been brewing however as filming of the movies is due to begin, with actors unions trying to resolve a pay dispute, that may lead to the movies being filmed outside of New Zealand, which is where Lord Of The Rings was filmed.
The unions have been trying to negotiate better employment terms for independent performers, and have issues “do not work” orders on the movies as a result.
The main unions, including Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild have lifted their boycott of the movie, however in New Zealand the unions have been holding out.
As a result, non-union workers have taken to the streets of New Zealand, protesting that the $500 million movie ought to be filmed there, and even the Prime Minister, John Key has got involved, as this means a lot to New Zealand as far as employment, their growing movie making industry, and of course for tourism, with thousands of people making pilgrimages to visit the sets that were used for Lord Of The Rings.
Warner Bros, who are producing the movies, have been considering other filming locations, the most likely being Great Britain.
On 19th November though, the New Zealand government made a deal with Warner Bros, increasing the financial incentives for the production, in return for Warner Bros helping to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination.
The films are due for release in December 2012 and December 2013 respectively, and if they do only half as well as The Lord Of The Rings, which grossed almost $3 billion worldwide, then it will be another huge success for the movie maker Peter Jackson..
The Daily Telegraph
The Hobbit Dispute Resolved