The upcoming first installment of director Peter Jackson’s (‘The Lord of The Rings’) trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ is creating great anticipation, even more so now, that it finally premiered in a star studded event in Wellington, New Zealand, the country in which filming took place for almost a year.

Jackson put together a truly stellar cast for the prequel to his very popular trilogy ‘The Lord of The Rings’. ‘The Hobbit tells the story of a curious Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of Dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug.

Let us examine who is cast in the main roles of what promises to be one of the best films of the year.

Martin Freeman as ‘Bilbo Baggins’

‘The Hobbit’ himself, initially had to decline playing the part due to a conflict in his schedule. The studio worked around it and he was able to accept the part, which he actually wanted to play. Freeman is a British actor that has appeared in at least 18 TV shows, 14 theater production and many radio productions. He has won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for is performance in ‘Sherlock’. He has also appeared in the TV show, ‘The Office’. Click to see more on Martin Freeman

Sir Ian McKellen as ‘Gandalf, the Grey’

The brilliant Ian McKellan returns, from The Lord of The Rings, to reprise the role of Gandalf, a wizard who recruits Biblo and helps the Dwarves reclaim Lonely Mountain from ‘Smaug, The Dragon’. McKellen is one of Britain’s most prolific actors, having appeared in uncounted TV, stage and film productions and having been nominated and won numerous awards. He was knighted in 1991 for his services to the performing arts. Recently appeared in ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘King Lear’. Click to see more on Ian McKellen

Richard Armitage as
Thorin Oakenshield

The leader of the Dwarves who sets on an adventure to capture the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug, the Dragon. Armitage is a British stage, TV and film actor. One of his iconic roles is that of Mr. Thornton on the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel ‘North and South’. He has numerous television series under his belt. This could most likely be the breakthrough role for the 41 year old actor. Click here for more information on Richard Armitage

Andy Serkis as ‘Gollum’

Andy Serkis returns in his role as ‘Gollum’ and also acts as second unit director in the films. “I think I understand Peter’s sensibility and we have a common history of understanding Middle Earth. A lot of the crew from The Lord of the Rings was returning to work on The Hobbit. There is really a sense of Peter wanting people around him who totally understand the material and the work ethic.” Recently starred in ‘The Adventures of Tintin’. Click to find out more about Andy Serkis

Cate Blanchette as ‘Galadriel’

Australian actress Cate Blanchette returns from ‘The Lord of The Rings’ trilogy to reprise the role of ‘Galadriel’, who does not appear in the novel, but Peter Jackson has stated she is one of his favorite actors to work with. Blanchette is a prolific stage and film actress and has received numerous awards for her performances. Click to read more about Cate Blanchette

These are the main Hobbit characters. Then we have the Dwarves, 13 of them, not including Thorin.

Graham McTavish – ‘Dwalin’

The consummate Hollywood bad guy, tall, imposing, brooding, Graham McTavish is a Scottish stage, film and television actor. Starred in the British comedy ‘Red Dwarf’ series 8, playing the role of ‘Warden Ackerman’. He has also starred in numerous TV shows such as, ’24’ and ‘NCIS’.

Ken Stott – ‘Balin’

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland Ken Stott is a Scottish theater and television actor. His most notable work includes an appearance in ‘The Debt Collector’ opposite Billy Connolly and ‘One Day’ which stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

Dean O’Gorman – ‘Fili’

Dean O’Gorman is from Auckland, New Zealand and was cast in ‘The Hobbit’ as the replacement of English actor Rob Kazinsky. Most known for playing roles in ‘Xena’ and ‘Hercules’, he’s also guest starred in ‘Go Girls’, ‘The Cult’ and ‘Legend of The Seeker’.

Aidan Turner – ‘Kili’

An Irish actor, Aidan Turner’s young career started in 2007 with a guest role in the popular period drama ‘The Tudors’. Later he also starred in the television series ‘Being Human’. Kili and Fili are Thorin’s nephews.

Mark Hadlow – ‘Dori’

Mark Hadlow is a New Zealand actor and comedian who director Peter Jackson has said is one of his favorite people to work with. Dori is the brother of ‘Nori’ and ‘Ori’.

Jed Brophy – ‘Nori’

Jed Brophy is a New Zealand actor who has appeared in several Peter Jackson productions. He also had roles in ‘District 9′ and ‘King Kong’.

Adam Brown – ‘Ori’

An English actor, comedian and pantomime performer, Adam Brown is mostly known for his theater work. He has appeared in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Puss In Boots’ on stage.

John Callen – ‘Oin’

Oin is the son of ‘Gloin’ in The Hobbit. A New Zealand character actor and director, John Callen has directed more than 100 stage productions.

Peter Hambleton – ‘Gloin’

Peter Gambleton is a New Zealand stage, film and television actor and stage director. He is well known in the New Zealand theater scene. Gloin is the brother of Oin.

William Kercher – ‘Bifur’

Initially known in New Zealand for the television police drama ‘Shark in The Park’. Later he focused his career on production signing and executive management.

James Nesbitt – ‘Bofur’

Peter Jackson has said this of the Northern Irish actor, “James’s charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast.” An award winner who is best known for his appearances in many theater and television productions such as ‘Murphy’s Law’, ‘Jekyll’ and the comedy ‘Cold Feet’.

Stephen Hunter – ‘Bombur’

A New Zealand actor and voice over artist, Stephen Hunt is currently based out of Sydney, Australia. On being cast in The Hobbit Hunter said, “Being cast in The Hobbit is really exciting and really an honour. I auditioned for the original Lord of the Rings way back when I signed with my agent in New Zealand. When I saw the films I thought, ‘Man, I so want to do The Hobbit.”

Some other cast members of notoriety are:

Lee Pace – ‘Thranduil’

Lee Pace is an American stage, television and film actor who has been cast in some well known films like, ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2′ and most recently ‘Lincoln’. He has also appeared in popular TV shows such as, ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’.

Stephen Fry – ‘Master of Lake-Town’

Stephen Fry is a well known English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and a director of Norwich City Football Club. About his role in The Hobbit Fry stated, “My character is an opportunity for sheer grossness… [Peter Jackson] had me eating testicles… gross appetites. I mustn’t give too much away but I’ve got a bald cap and then on top of that a really bad combover wig and this wispy mustache and wispy beard and horrible blotchy skin and disgusting fingernails… And generally speaking a really unappetizing piece of work. And a coward to boot and very, very greedy.”

Elijah Wood – ‘Frodo Baggins’

Elijah Wood returns from ‘The Lord of The Rings’ to reprise his role as Frodo Baggins, a hobbit and favorite relative of Bilbo Baggins. The young American actor has a prolific film and television careers with numerous nominations under his belt.

Evangeline Lilly – ‘Tauriel’

Lilly plays the part of Tauriel, a female elf from Mirkwood. Screenplay writer Philippa Boyens has stated that they created this character in order to have a female into the film. She is a Canadian actress whose most well known role is that of ‘Connie James’ in ‘The Hurt Locker’, she was also part of the cast of the TV series ‘Lost’.

Christopher Lee – ‘Saruman the White’

Legendary actor Christopher Lee was convinced to come back and reprise this role from ‘The Lord of The Rings’, even though he was hesitant and has stated that he was concerned about traveling to New Zealand at his age. He said, he would have preferred to do the voice of ‘Smaug the Dragon’ so he could work in England.

Billy Connolly – ‘Dain Il Ironfoot’

Dain is the second cousin to Thorin Oakenshield. According to Connolly, “…this guy will terrify the life out of you. I have a mohawk and tattoos on my head.” Billy Connolly is a well known Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor.

Benedict Cumberbatch – ‘Smaug the Dragon’ and ‘The Necromancer’

Cumberbatch will portray the role of ‘Smaug’ via motion capture, similar to that of Andy Serkis as ‘Gollum’ (you can see the trailers to understand!) and he will provide the voice for ‘The Necromancer’. He is an English actor who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s award winning ‘War Horse’ and is also the title character in the TV series ‘Sherlock’.

So there you have it. Quite impressive! Some names you might recognize, some you might not, but one thing is for certain, the building anticipation as the opening dates get closer and closer is palpable among fans who have been waiting for a long time and for many of these actors who can have the opportunity to finally have their big break through role for, to be cast in an ensemble such as this can be a career changing event. Currently the cast is involved in press junkets in Canada for their premiere and before that Japan. The US is next, with some talk show filming taking place this week.

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ opens in the US on December 14 and is rated PG-13.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDB.