It was recently announced that filmmaker Peter Jackson would be returning to middle-earth by producing The Hobbit based on the J. R. R. Tolkien book of the same name. This time around he will be producing only and is giving up his director's chair to Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro. He is however staying on as a writer as Jackson plans to co-write the film with del Toro and the first trilogy's writers, his wife Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. The novel takes place sixty-years before events depicted in the first film and tells the story of how Bilbo Baggins became in possession of the ring from the creature Gollum. It was originally announced that the filmmakers intended to make two films, the first being an adaptation of the novel and the second a film that would bridge the gap between the previous movie and the trilogy. However del Toro himself later posted on a Lord of the Rings fan-site that while he still intends to make two films they will instead have only one narrative, based on the book, that will stretch over the two movies. But the director gave a conflicting statement when he was later quoted saying that he felt the second film would need to end by leading directly into The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
Regardless, it's still fun for fans to speculate on which characters from the first three films could possibly end up in the sequels somehow. Originally when the filmmakers were discussing a "bridge" film Jackson stated that one of the things he would like to include was seeing the moment where Aragorn/Strider begins setting a watch on the Shire. We had the opportunity to speak with Viggo Mortenson, the actor who portrayed Aragorn/Strider in the film, this weekend while he was promoting his new movie The Road. We asked Mortenson if he would be interested in returning to his role in The Hobbit, if the filmmakers were able to find away to include his character. The actor stated that he had a lot of fun making the first three films and would love to return for more. He went on to say that his understanding was that the filmmakers are trying to find a way to incorporate many of the actors from the first trilogy, even some who's characters do not appear in the actual novel, into the new films. He also stated how much he loved working with the original cast and crew, how much he loved shooting in New Zealand and how much he would really enjoy returning one more time.
Whether Mortenson ends up in the film or not, there is no doubt that fans are dying to see these films come to the big screen. The Hobbit is due for release in December of 2011 with the conclusion The Hobbit Sequel hitting theaters a year later in December of 2012. Look for our exclusive interview with Viggo Mortenson about his film The Road coming soon.