Speaking in “The Unexpected Party” online chat over the weekend, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson made it known that Ian Holm definitely wasn’t out of contention to reprise his role as Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming prequel movie, The Hobbit, depending on what the script called for.
He is my only choice for Bilbo, thanks in part to his long history with The Lord of the Rings. For those of you not aware, Holms played Frodo in the BBC radio production of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s masterpiece. But given the possibility that the part may be just beyond the aging actor (he is currently 76), the latest rumors do not scare me as much as I thought the recasting of Bilbo might.
Best known for his role as Mr. Tumnus the Fawn in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, James McAvoy is being rumored as a contender for the coveted role of Bilbo in The Hobbit. The 29-year-old Scot is one of several names that have been thrown around, according to an insider who spoke to British newspaper The Daily Express.
“A number of names have privately been doing the rounds, including Daniel Radcliffe and Jack Black but James is the one the film’s bosses really want,” the insider said. “They’re expected to have talks with him soon so hopefully it could be confirmed in the not too distant future.”
According to an article by the Times Online, a few other tidbits have been thrown out that, at least I have failed to notice. Included is the old news that Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis will return to reprise their roles as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively. But on top of that, they note that Sir Ian Holm will be narrating the movie, and that Viggo Mortensen will return as Aragorn (read to the end to see why I think he’s in The Hobbit).
All of this may be for naught, though, if the ever-lovin’-buzz-kill Christopher Tolkien has his way. The youngest son of the late J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher is best known as being the man who has, since his father’s death, compiled his father’s posthumous works, including Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle Earth. He was also the first to decipher his father’s map of Middle Earth, and has drawn all published maps for his father’s library of work.
However, he is also the executor of the Tolkien estate, and as such is hoping to halt the production of any further movies based upon his father’s work. Christopher Tolkien, now aged 84, claims that New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros., owes the Tolkien family £80m, due to a deal that saw his father sign over the movie rights in 1969 so that he could pay a tax bill. The deal stated that the family would receive 7.5% of profits from any movie production.
So on June 6, Christopher Tolkien will ask a Californian judge to back his claim that he is able to “terminate” any film rights to The Hobbit, and thus subsequently halt any filming. In addition, Christopher could put the kybosh on proceedings due to the fact that he is still in possession of the rights to The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, two books that are supposed to make up the majority of reference material for director del Toro and producer Peter Jackson’s Hobbit film and its unnamed sequel.
Described as “cantankerous” by his biographer, Christopher Tolkien is definitely unlikely to allow free access to the books. However, as with Peter Jackson’s lawsuit, the problem appears to be with New Line Cinema, rather than Warner Bros., Jackson, or even del Toro. That New Line has already been dissolved by parent company WB could go a long way to soothing Tolkien Jr.’s maniacal manipulations, and allow us to see a Hobbit movie.
As for why we might be seeing Aragorn? All along we’ve heard that The Hobbit will be the first part of two prequel movies, the second to focus a specific time between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Given that, it would make a lot of sense that del Toro and Jackson will attempt to tell a wider story, than just the one given us in The Hobbit. Readers of additional Tolkien books, such as myself, are well aware that Gandalf’s frequent absences from Hobbiton saw him travelling far and wide to deal with Sauron, or to look for Gollum, or meet up with Aragorn or Legolas. This gives the directors a real opening to expand the cast of the movie to bring back favorites such as Mortensen and Orlando Bloom.
As for the rumor that Jack Black or Daniel Radcliffe are also in talks to play Bilbo, let me just say that if McAvoy doesn’t take the part, I’m joining Christopher Tolkien’s army!