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OTRC: Ian McKellen and Gollum actor Andy Serkis join 'The Hobbit,' reports say

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in the 2003 film 'The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.' (New Line Cinema)

"The Hobbit" films are shaping up to be a fine reunion of "The Lord of the Rings" franchise cast. Word comes from The Hollywood Reporter that Ian McKellan has signed on to reprise his role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson's new film franchise.

Meanwhile, Variety reports that Andy Serkis, the actor behind the CG-animated Gollum, will also reprise his role in film series. Both characters are featured in the book, with Gandlaf playing a significant role in the events.

The news comes just a week shy after Elijah Wood's representatives confirmed in a statement to OnTheRedCarpet.com that the actor will be reprising his role of Frodo Baggins in "The Hobbit" films. It was announced in December that Cate Blanchett will reprise her role of Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien.

Entertainment Weekly notes that Frodo Baggins does not appear in "The Hobbit" book since the story takes place 60 years before the events of "The Lord of The Rings." Yet, fansite TheOneRing.net speculates (Spoiler alert!) that Frodo's appearance will be used as a framing device for the films (End spoiler alert).

The actors will join "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" star Martin Freeman, who was cast in the lead role of Bilbo Baggins in October. Other actors cast in the movie include Ken Stott as Dwarf Lord Balin, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown, and Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn.

It was announced in October the two "Hobbit" films, set for release in December 2012 and December 2013, will begin filming in February.

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