Cate Blanchett Returns To Middle Earth As Galadriel In <i>The Hobbit</i>

Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett will reprise her role as Galadriel, the Lady of the Wood, in Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of The Hobbit, Deadline reports.

She's joined by Ken Stott (Charlie Wilson's War) as the dwarf lord Balin, Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who) as the wizard Radagast the Brown, Mikael Persbrandt (Day and Night) as the shape-shifting Beorn, Ryan Gage (Outlaw) as Drogo Baggins, Jed Brophy (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) as the dwarf Nori, and William Kircher as the dwarf Bifur.

Still absent from this latest casting announcement are Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving, who are expected to return as Gandalf, Gollum and Elrond.

Blanchett of course played the elf Galadriel in Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, but as fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy know, the character doesn't appear in The Hobbit (neither, for that matter, does Radagast; he's only mentioned). So how the Lady of Light will be integrated into the quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountains from the dragon Smaug is a bit of a mystery.

The Hobbit, which stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, is set to begin production in February for release in December 2012 and December 2013.

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