Guillermo Del Toro has revealed that he and Peter Jackson have agreed on a first-choice actor to play Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit films.

The Pan's Labyrinth director was named as the chosen director to take JRR Tolkien's novel to the screen earlier this month and he is to produce two films tied to the book, with Jackson on executive producing duties.

And after Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis committed to reprising their Lord Of The Rings role as Gandalf and Gollum respectively, Del Toro has admitted that he and the Kiwi helmer have agreed upon their ideal choice to take the lead role of Bilbo.

Speaking to Empire magazine, Del Toro confirmed that the character of Bilbo will be based on Ian Holm's portrayal of the hobbit in Jackson's Oscar-winning trilogy, even though the British actor himself will not take the role as such.

"We are writing based on [Ian Holm's performance], but other than that, we have ideas [of who could play him]," he explained.

"I can tell you that it's down to a few names that we all agree upon.

"And that our first choice... completely, magically, we said the same name. All of us!"

However, with the script for the first of the two films still to be written by Del Toro, Jackson and Philippa Boyens, Tolkien fans will have to wait "at least a year" before any casting announcements are made.

Del Toro's talk with the film magazine followed a webchat in which he and Jackson took part for, the fan site for the special effects house responsible for the stunning visuals of Jackson's Lord of the Rings films.

The pair revealed some choice details about their plans for the two films, including the return of Howard Shore as score composer, the use of New Zealand as a primary location, and the confirmation that film two will most likely focus on "one short section of time" in the 60 years that elapse between the conclusion of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.

27/05/2008 14:35:38