Cate Blanchett had better start brushing up on her Elvish. The Australian actress has signed on to the cast of director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic “The Hobbit,” reprising the role of the ethereal elf Galadriel that she played in Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
The announcement of Blanchett’s casting comes as something of a surprise, since the character of Galadriel doesn’t actually appear in Tolkien’s novel. Then again, there are virtually no female characters in the book whatsoever, so Jackson is clearly looking to balance out the two-part film somewhat in terms of gender.
Jackson also announced that several other lesser-known actors have joined “The Hobbit” cast. Ken Stott (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) will play the Dwarf Lord Balin; Sylvester McCoy (“Doctor Who”) will play the wizard Radagast the Brown; Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt will play the shape-shifting bear-man Beorn; British actor Ryan Gage will play Drogo Baggins; and New Zealand actors Jed Brophy and William Kircher will play the dwarves Nori and Bifur, respectively.
Conspicuously absent from today’s “Hobbit” casting news was Sir Ian McKellan, who has stated on his official site that he will reprise his role from the “Lord of the Rings” films as the wizard Gandalf but has yet to be officially announced as part of the cast.