Orlando Bloom Expected To Return As Legolas In <i>The Hobbit</i>

Following Tuesday's wave of casting announcements, Deadline reports that Orlando Bloom may be the next Lord of the Rings actor to sign on to The Hobbit.

The actor rose to fame in Jackson's trilogy as the elven archer Legolas, one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. Like Cate Blanchett's Galadriel and Sylvester McCoy's Radagast the Brown, the character doesn't appear in J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit, so it will be interesting to see how Legolas is integrated into the two-movie adaptation. According to Deadline, Bloom's deal is expected to be for "more than a cameo."

Although the start of production is just two months away, there's been no announcements for the return of Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis or Hugo Weaving, three Lord of the Rings alumni whose characters -- Gandalf, Gollum and Elrond -- actually do appear in The Hobbit. Those negotiations are described as "arduous" and incomplete, but it seems likely those deals are forthcoming. (It's tough to imagine Jackson recasting Gandalf in particular.)

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

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