James Nesbitt was not a fan of fantasy prior to signing up to 'The Hobbit'.

The British actor - who plays dwarf Bofur in the forthcoming 'Lord Of The Rings' prequel directed by Peter Jackson - confesses he was not interested in the genre until all of the cast and crew got together to watch the first three instalments of the movie.

Asked if he was a fan of fantasy movies, James said: "No I wasn't really, to tell you the truth. But obviously coming out to do this now I've immersed myself in it a bit.

"It's funny - as a company, we watched the three films together, so we were in the cinema all together. It's a very exciting prospect to be watching those and thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be in something like that'. It is a chance to be a kid again."

The crew - including lead actor Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins - have all gone to New Zealand to begin shooting the project, and James confesses he thinks of it as a great chance to visit the country.

He told Digital Spy: "It's a wonderful opportunity. It's great for me just to be involved in something this epic and to have the opportunity to work with all these great people. It really is something I'm very grateful for."

Shooting on 'The Hobbit' begins later this month.