Billy Connolly joins The Hobbit cast

2012-02-09 09:53

Wellington - Scottish comedian Billy Connolly will play a pugnacious dwarf in Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit movies, the New Zealand director said on Thursday.

Jackson said the recruitment of Connolly, known as the "Big Yin", completed casting for his latest JRR Tolkien epic, a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit currently being shot in Jackson's homeland.

"We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dain Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of dwarves, than Billy Connolly, the Big Yin himself," Jackson said in a statement.

Two-part prequel

"With Billy stepping into this role, the cast of The Hobbit is now complete. We can't wait to see him on the battlefield."

After years of wrangling and delays, the $500m project, a two-part prequel to the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings trilogy, began filming in New Zealand last March.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is due to be released in December this year, while The Hobbit: There and Back Again is slated for release 12 months later.

Actors reprising their Lord of the Rings roles include Ian McKellen, who returns as Gandalf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Elijah Wood as Frodo, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

British actor Martin Freeman takes on the central role of Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

Other big names appearing include Barry Humphries, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt and Evangeline Lilly.