Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has been cast to play a dwarf in Peter Jackson’s two Hobbit movies, which are currently being filmed in New Zealand.
The BBC has announced that Billy Connolly has been cast as Dain Ironfoot “the staunchest and toughest of the dwarves” in Peter Jackson’s two Hobbit films: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (scheduled to be released in December 2012) and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” (which will be released in December 2013). The films are prequels to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which Jackson also directed. The five films are based on the worlds and stories created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The new Hobbit films are estimated to cost $500 million project and use an apparently revolutionary 3D camera technology.
Digital Spy quotes Peter Jackson, speaking about Connolly, saying: “We could not think of a more fitting actor…than... the Big Yin himself.”
Billy Connolly was better known as a comedian during the 1970s and 1980s. He then took on a number of film roles, ”Mrs Brown”, “The Last Samurai”, the second X-Files movie, and “Gulliver's Travels”.
Other members of the Hobbit cast include Sir Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchet (each reprising their roles from “Lord of the Rings” trilogy), Martin Freeman (who plays the lead role of Bilbo Baggins), former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt and Evangeline Lilly. Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice of the dragon Smaug.
Such is the popularity of Tolkein’s world that The Daily Telegraph has reported that auditions to play extras in the films attracted more than a thousand people, mostly from New Zealand, to a small hall and created so much traffic havoc that the police were forced to shut down the screen tests.
Screenrant have a post which details the official synopsis of the Hobbit films. This runs:
““The Hobbit” follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.”