The Hobbit officially began today with a press conference in New Zealand – check out footage and photos.

Peter Jackson’s THE HOBBIT officially started today, with the cast meeting in New Zealand for an official press conference.

The event began with an apology fromJackson, who said he couldn’t be there as he was “under a form of medical house arrest” since being hospitalised with an ulcer last week. “And to be honest, perhaps it’s just as well. These guys make me laugh so hard that I’d be in danger of popping a stitch or something,” Jackson continued in his statement.

Watch this clip from New Zealand TV.

Thepress conference included British actor Martin Freeman, who has the role of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, in the US$500 million two-part Lord of the Rings prequel. He was joined by our very own James Nesbitt, Spooks star Richard Armitage and New Zealand actors include William Kircher, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow. Who have now been in Wellington for four weeks.


Freeman said he had sent in an audition tape for Bilbo, but was concerned he couldn’t schedule it around his television show Sherlock Holmes. James Nesbitt said he had brought his family and being in Wellington was “fantastic”. He had even attended the sevens game last weekend dressed as a chicken.

Watch more of the press conference below

THE HOBBIT begins filming on March 21st at Stone Street Studios in Miramar, Wellington, and with location shooting around New Zealand including the rebuilt Hobbiton in Matamata.

THE HOBBIT hits Irish cinemas in 2012