Jackson on health 'house arrest'

19:39, Feb 11 2011
FROM OFFICE TO FOREST: Martin Freeman will play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, and Peter Jackson says it is a role he was born to play.
BIG PRAISE: Richard Armitage will play Thorin Oakensheild in The Hobbit and Peter Jackson says he is one of the most exciting actors on screen today.
FROM SOAP TO FILM: Eastender star Rob Kazinsky will play Fili in The Hobbit, it has been confirmed.
Aidan Turner
GOOD COMPANY: Being Human's Aidan Turner will play Kili, a member of the Company of Dwarves, in The Hobbit.
SHORT STUFF: TV star Graham McTavish will play dwarf Dwalin in The Hobbit.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Mark Hadlow has scored a role in The Hobbit.
NO STRIPPING PLEASE: The Strip star Peter Hambleton will play a dwarf called Gloin in The Hobbit.

Sir Peter Jackson missed today's Wellington launch featuring the stars of The Hobbit as he is under the health version of "house arrest''.

Jackson said via a statement handed out at the press conference in Wellington that he "regretted'' not being able to attend.

The director was hospitalised last month with a perforated ulcer. He was discharged last week but has been resting at home.

This morning's press conference included British actor Martin Freeman, who has the pivotal role of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, in the US$500 million two-part Lord of the Rings prequel.

He was also joined by Irish actor James Nesbitt (best known for his television roles, including the series Cold Feet), Spooks star Richard Armitage and New Zealand actors include William Kircher, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Jed Brophy and Mark Hadlow. They all have roles as dwarves in the films.

Freeman said being cast as Bilbo Baggins was the role of a lifetime.

"I'm extremely chuffed.''

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.

He and his troupe of dwarves had been in Wellington for about four weeks.

Nesbitt said he had brought his family and being here was "fantastic''. He had even attended the sevens last weekend dressed as a chicken.

Hadlow and Brophy said working with the overseas stars was great, with Brophy describing them as "really good blokes''.

Filming of The Hobbit will begin on March 21 at Stone Street Studios in Miramar, Wellington, and with location shooting around New Zealand including the rebuilt Hobbiton in Matamata.


Hobbit 1
Gary Dyall (short) and Andrew Van Klei (tall) cue up for casting of the Hobbit at the Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre.
Hobbit 2
From left, Carly Browne, Gary Dyall, Andrew Van Klei, Arthur Jacobson and Kathy Corliss.
Hobbit 3
From left, Arthur Trousdell, Kimberley Kan, Michelle Kan, Jeff Foster, Steven Adams, Natalie Crane, and Paul Mensink.
Hobbit 5
Pictured left to right Arthur Trousdell, Kimberley Kan, Michelle Kan, Jeff Foster, Steven Adams, Natalie Crane, and Paul Mensink.
FILM FANS: Marchers gather ahead of Auckland's pro-Hobbit rally in QEII square at the bottom of Queen Street..
READY TO CHANT: Crowds gather ahead of today's pro-Hobbit rally in Auckland in QEII square at the bottom of Queen Street.
WKT hobbit
A small group turned out in Hamilton, organised by film buff Paul Barlow.
SIGN LANGUAGE: Brodan Stephens protests in Queenstown to keep the production of The Hobbit in New Zealand.
VOICING HIS SUPPORT: Actor Axel Scott talks to the crowd gathered in Cathedral Square in Christchurch.
richard taylor
PATIENTLY WAITING: Sir Richard Taylor sits in the crowd in Civic Square in Wellington during a rally to support The Hobbit being filmed in New Zealand.
hobbit rally
SAY IT LOUD AND PROUD: Hobbit rally organiser Mark Harrison speaks at QE2 Square in Auckland.
WHERE'S THE PRECIOUS? Meg Robinson and sister Kate Robinson enjoy the rally to support The Hobbit in Auckland.
LAST WORD: Fans show their support for The Hobbit in Auckland.
IN CHARACTER: Ruevin Blaxall dressed up as a hobbit character in support of retaining the production of the hobbit movies
FOUR HORSEMEN: Fans show their support for The Hobbit in Auckland.
Martin Freeman and his cast mates from The Hobbit
LEADING MAN: Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, with his cast mates from The Hobbit.
James Nesbitt and Sophie Bennett
KITTED OUT: Hobbit star James Nesbitt attended the Wellington sevens and was recognised by visiting Brit Sophie Bennett.
Hobbit press conference
DWARVES AND HOBBITS: Some of the stars of The Hobbit.

The Dominion Post