Although Peter Jackson is still deciding which nation shall have a plague of frogs and locusts visited upon it for hosting his blighted production of The Hobbit, he’s already handing out Black Spots to doomed cast members, many of whom already had the bony finger of death extended in their direction months ago. Martin Freeman, best-known as Tim from the original incarnation of The Office (and sort-of known for playing the lead in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy), will indeed play Bilbo Baggins, about which Jackson said this: "There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. 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." As Jackson spoke, a crepuscular shadow crept over Freeman's residence, where it's remained ever since.
Freeman's casting leads the way for a host of people familiar primarily to those who watch British television, including Spooks/MI-5 star Richard Armitage as dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield and Being Human’s Aidan Turner and EastEnders’ Rob Kazinsky as Thorin’s fellow dwarves. Other confirmed cast: Secretariat’s Graham McTavish as Dwalin, All Saints’ Stephen Hunter as Bombur, King Kong’s Mark Hadlow as Dori, The Strip’s Peter Hambleton as Gloin, and Oin will be played by John Callen, who starred in something called Power Rangers Jungle Fury that we were pretty sure was made up until Google confirmed its existence. There have been 32 episodes of it and everything.
Deadline reports that other possible contenders include The Lovely Bones’ Saoirse Ronan, walking glass of dry sherry Stephen Fry, and Bill Nighy as the voice of the dragon Smaug, while as previously reported, David Tennant and James Nesbitt are still up for parts, and Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are set to return. It looks like American actors really dodged a bullet on this one.