Larry D. Curtis, as part of the team at TheOneRing.net, has been comprehensively covering the works and adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien for more than a decade, making the not-for-profit site the leading source about The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings for fans and film makers world wide. Curtis represents the site at conventions and events around the US including the San Diego Comic-Con. You can read his The Hobbit Countdown here at Movies.com every other week.
It’s elementary my dear Bilbo, elementary.
Or is it?
Internet rumors can take on a life of their own, often without any basis in fact or new information at all. Martin Freeman (Watson), the star of the two-part movie adaptation of The Hobbit let slip that Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes himself on the BBC) was going to be part of the two-part production of The Hobbit. and since then speculation hell has broken loose.
Out of nowhere (or at least nowhere credible) rumors swirled that the young television sleuth was going to voice the dragon Smaug for the production. Others pointed out that of the films’ major role of Bard the Bowman was, as yet, unfilled. While it is certainly safe to trust Freeman while he is speaking to the press, it is certainly not safe to rely on “sources” from websites without a long history of breaking news. However Ian McKellen has offered his congratulations to his fellow thespian and claims to have seen a screen test of Cumberbatch and called it “electric.”
But keep in mind, screen tests aren’t always for the same roles actors eventually land and in this case the busy stage, television, film and even sometime radio actor Cumberbatch could be performing nothing more than a humorous cameo with a wink to Freeman’s working relationship with him. It is the sort of thing Jackson loves and McKellen would also report on his personal site with a private smile and a wink to insiders.
But while casting speculation will continue until every major role is filled, there are plenty of other confirmed news nuggets to be mined from Hobbit headlines.
OFFICIAL FILM TITLES
Warner Brothers staked its claims on December 2012 and 2013 cinema with an official press release detailing not only the dates the two films will roll for the public, but announced official titles too. Confirming on Memorial Day what TheOneRing.net revealed back on May 2, WB announced that December 14, 2012 will see the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and one day short of a year later on December 13, 2013 The Hobbit: There and Back Again will conclude the tale.
The first film alludes of course to the first chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit called An Unexpected Party. Readers will remember that uninvited guests show up in colorful cloaks at the residence of one Bilbo Baggins. Before he knows what has happened (and its easy to imagine Freeman in this discombobulated portion of the role) he is hosting a tall, strange gray wizard and a company of dwarves who threaten in song to break his plates.
The concluding film draws for the extended title of Tolkien work, There And Back Again, memorably uttered by Ian Holm, playing Bilbo in the cinematic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Cinemaphiles, mark your calendars accordingly.
CASTING AND CLUES
A careful look at the casting of the film can tell readers a lot of what to expect at the cinema. The inclusion of Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee along with Sylvester McCoy featured as Radagast; let fans know that besides the children’s book episodic plotting of only The Hobbit, bigger and higher stakes conflicts will be part of the show as well.
Casual fans can be forgiven for not knowing that The White Council (basically a who’s who of power brokers in Middle-earth) was meeting off stage during The Hobbit when Gandalf would disappear for long sections of the book. In the Lord of the Rings appendices, Tolkien revealed that this group was concerned about and plotting protection from the Necromancer (later known as Sauron!) from his Mirkwood Forest hideout Dol Guldur. Casting these actors for this movie made inclusion of this more epic storyline pretty likely, and Peter Jackson confirmed it all recently on his Facebook page.
“I'm not going to say just what and when, but I will confirm that both the White Council and Dol Guldur will feature in the movies. And not just in one scene either,” Jackson wrote.
Astute observers, and TORn’s reliable spy network suggest that one member of the Council, former Dr. Who Sylvester McCoy, will play a significant part in the events in Mirkwood, particularly in the second film. Although relatively little is written about the wizard of Gandalf’s order, it is known that he loved animals and wild places and an evil presence in Mirkwood would most certainly concern him. His own home called Rhosgobel is in the boarders of the tainted forest in fact and protecting his animal friends and his own home would be a natural, and extremely likely expansion for Jackson’s writing team. From information gathered, expect to see a lot of Radagast on screen. In fact, consider him one of the main characters in the film.
MORE CASTING NEWS
Mountain of a man Conan Stevens has been confirmed as performing Azog, a great orc chief with a history of bad blood with Dwarves. Stevens is also in HBO’s Game of Thrones (with an expanded role in future seasons). His casting provides yet more clues that Dwarves vs. Orcs will be another central conflict in the film. While there are certainly clear tones of this in the book, it seems that the animosity between the two races will be amplified by Jackson’s team and will include history from Tolkien’s writings to give the conflict in the Hobbit a lot of depth.
Stephen Fry is confirmed as the Master of Laketown, leaving many fans rejoicing about the casting choice. Such a significant actor in the role breathes life into speculation that conflict between men will further add drama to the production. Will he aid Bard or provide an obstacle to his leadership?
SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON
TheOneRing.net has been invited to present on The Hobbit at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Watch for reports here at least bi-weekly and as it happens as well as on TheOneRing.net. Feel free to contact the author at MrCere@TheOneRing.net.