Jackson, Del Toro spill the beans on The Hobbit

The Unexpected Party, a live web chat hosted by Hobbit producer Peter Jackson and director Guillermo Del Toro, drew a guest list of hundreds this afternoon. Jackson and Del Toro chatted with fans for a little over an hour, answering questions about their upcoming production of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the predecessor to The Lord of the Rings. The book will be split into two films, with the second utilizing notes and other stories from Tolkien to fill the gap between Bilbo’s adventure and Frodo’s.

Jackson and Del Toro both seemed to be in good spirits, and were generally excited about the film and the questions raised about it. They dodged a lot of casting queries (though they confirmed Ian McKellen’s return as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum), but Del Toro mentioned that Ron Perlman would be involved (the voice of Smaug, anyone?) and that he was very interested in approaching actors from the LotR original trilogy to be involved (such as Legolas appearing in Mirkwood).

As for Bilbo:

“No one is being considering at the moment,” Del Toro said. “The fact that Ian Holm is so memorable means that PJ, Fran and PB did their job right. We will utilize him in some fashion for sure, but the difficulty of the role will be better assessed after we do the script(s).”

The duo also confirmed that Howard Shore would be returning to score the films – which is great, great news. Shore’s scores for LotR are just fantastic, really some of the best film soundtrack in years.

Del Toro also touched upon his vision of the film.

“I hope that Mirkwood can be pretty scary, but not graphic,” he said. “I hope Riddles in the Dark has an element of fear and suspense and to be deeply atmospheric but still allow the ingenious, engaging contest to take place. And Smaug should be all shock and awe when he unleashes his anger, so it will be pretty intense but not gory.”

On top of all of this exciting information, Jackson admitted that he is currently working on a Blu-Ray transfer of the LotR films. I am psyched!

You can read the full transcript of the chat here. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the film, which is set for release in 2011.

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