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“The Hobbit” officially adds Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen

“The Hobbit” officially adds Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen

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And a big sigh of relief from Tolkien fans.

Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen are back. The two actors will reprise their roles of Gollum and Gandalf, respectively, in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit”.

McKellen hasn’t had a major film role since 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Many had considered McKellen’s return a foregone conclusion, but that it took this long to ink the English actor had many worried. Fans are, no doubt, thrilled to have him return.

The moves come in the wake of Elijah Woods (aka Frodo Baggins) signing on to return to Middle Earth, plus the return of Cate Blanchett as the elf queen Galadriel. Scuttlebutt says that Orlando Bloom, who played Legolas, the elf archer, has a part if he wants to come back. Still other reports indicate that that veteran actor Christopher Lee will be back as Saruman and Ian Holm will supply a cameo as the elder version of Bilbo Baggins.

Things seems to be coming along smoothly the past couple of months for producer/director Jackson. After almost having to move production from his native New Zealand to avoid an actor’s strike (not to mention the exit of original director Guillermo del Toro), Jackson has cast all the plum roles for his film.

“The Hobbit” starts shooting in February.