It’s no secret around my neck of the woods that I’m a rabidly-obsessive Middle Earth fanatic. I re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings every year (with some Silmarillion usually thrown in for good measure every other year), I saw each of the films five times in the theatre (the first always at midnight, opening day), and I absolutely refuse to watch the standard editions now, much to my wife’s dismay, as I believe the extended editions to be the definitive and only cuts that exist.

So, to say that I mildly excited when news about The Hobbit began to drift across the fields of the Shire would be an understatement akin to calling the Sammath Naur nothing more than a pothole. What do we know? We know that Peter Jackson is onboard to produce and that Guillermo Del Toro will be taking over the director’s chair. Unfortunately, that’s about it, but as filming in 2010 begins to inch closer and closer, it is inevitable that casting rumors will become more frequent and that it’s only a matter of time before we have our ensemble cast headed by Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield.

So, what’s the newest casting rumor? According to the folks over at Ain’t It Cool News, Brian Cox (Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, X2, Trick R Treat) is either locked down or being heavily considered for a role as one of the thirteen dwarves that accompany Bilbo on his quest. As a huge fan of Mr. Cox, I applaud this piece of casting news, and considering his age, demeanor, and star power, I would venture a guess that he isn’t being considered for just any of the dwarves, but as Thorin Oakenshield himself. Beyond Thorin, I could see him as Gloin, but if Brian Cox is being considered for Gloin (or another dwarf, however doubtful that would be), then they must have someone really special in mind for Thorin. However, since they obviously won’t cast big names for all thirteen roles, I would place my bet on the King Under the Mountain.

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