Stephen Fry Joins <i>The Hobbit</i>

Actor, author and comedian Stephen Fry will play the Master of Laketown in Peter Jackson's highly anticipated adaptation of The Hobbit.

In J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy novel, the Master is the greedy, intelligent and charismatic of Laketown when Bilbo Baggins and the Company of Dwarves arrive.

The announcement was made last night by Jackson in a Facebook post, where he also revealed that Ryan Gage (Hollyoaks), who was originally cast in a small part -- Drogo Baggins, IMDb says -- has been promoted to the role of the Master's "conniving civil servant" Alfrid. Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones' Gregor Clegane) has also been added as an Orc named Azog.

"Orcs are never called Roger or Dennis for some strange reason," Jackson observed.

The director said that The Hobbit, which began production in March, is nearing the end of its first shooting block, after which there will be a break "to get some editing and visual effects work done, plus prepare for very big scenes coming up."

The sprawling cast of Jackson’s two-movie adaptation also includes Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Cate Blachett, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Lee Pace, Jeffrey Thomas and Mike Mizrahi. The films will be released in 2012 and 2013.

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