Casting on “The Hobbit” begins this week, with wide auditions expected for each part except Gandalf, which is being reserved for Ian McKellen, who played the wizard in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“We’re auditioning for every role,” Jackson said in an interview, adding he is a big believer in casting a wide net to better match actors with the roles.
“What we’ve done over the years is discover a lot of interesting actors, like Orlando Bloom (in ‘Rings’), Kate Winslet (in ‘Heavenly Creatures’), Saoirse Ronan (in ‘The Lovely Bones’). So if you start looking and auditioning seriously, it’s amazing what incredible talent you’ll find out there.”
Jackson denied that he had settled on any actors besides McKellen and pooh-poohed Web chatter that he has approached James McAvoy for a key role.
“Apart from Ian McKellen, who we obviously want to return as Gandalf, we are not really offering any roles to anybody until we’ve done a casting sweep,” Jackson said.
Casting is being handled out of Los Angeles and London.
The filmmaker, whose adaptation of “The Lovely Bones” opens Friday, said although he and director Guillermo del Toro have casting approval on the two “Hobbit” movies, he feels no pressure to cast stars in major roles.
“(These movies) have never been a star-driven vehicle. The star is (author J.R.R.) Tolkien and the world he created. We are not under any pressure. We want to find the right people. Casting someone to portray a hobbit is not as easy as you might imagine. They have to have a particular type of physical appearance and a sensibility. And the same with an elf or a dwarf. These are fantastical characters, but you’ve got to find the right people to play them, the right humans to translate these characters.”
Jackson also denied earlier reports that production on “Hobbit” was delayed.
“It’s not,” he said, adding that the script for the first movie is completed and that collaborators Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and del Toro are in the middle of writing the second. They hope to deliver drafts to Warner Bros. and MGM, which are jointly backing the films, around Christmastime.
“We were always planning to shoot around April or May next year, and as far as I’m aware, we’re pretty much on target for that. It depends on how quickly the studio greenlights the film. It’s not in our hands. But as long as we‘re shooting next year, we’re fine.”