Ian Holm to return as Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit’

Ian Holm may be set to return for the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit.

Tolkien fans will be aware that the 77-year-old actor is a little too old to play the character, who was in his youth in the original books, but the suggestion from director Guillermo del Toro, who is working on the two-film project with Rings helmer Peter Jackson as producer, is that Holm may play an older version of Baggins, with a new actor brought in to play the younger hobbit.

 Speak about the character, Del Toro noted: “We are writing based on [Ian Holm’s performance], but other than that, we have ideas [of who could play him]. 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!”

Sir Ian ‘Gandalf’ McKellen has already agreed to reprise his iconic role of the wizard in the prequels, but Del Toro said no other cast details would be announced for “at least a year”.

In a separate web chat with fans, Del Toro revealed that pre-production on the two films will take place throughout 2009, with back-to-back shooting to begin in 2010. Both will be, according to Jackson, “intense PG-13”.

The chat also revealed that the second film will not cover the full 60-years between The Hobbit and the first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, but instead will focus on a key period from that time.

The first Hobbit film is expected to hit cinemas in 2010.