'The Hobbit': Who should play Bilbo Baggins?

Hobbit-Bilbo-Radcliffe_l Casting rumors for The Hobbit — oh my! There has been next to no news about Guillermo del Toro's massive two-film project of late, so I will take whatever I can get, even if it's just a rumor. According to the Los Angeles Times, word on the geek street is that the actor portraying Bilbo Baggins may be announced at Comic-Con next week, and three names are in the air (pictured, from left to right): James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, and David Tennant. Let's take a closer look at these choices.

Tennant, 38, is a Scottish actor best known for starring as The Doctor in the current incarnation of the BBC show Doctor Who. McAvoy, 30, is also Scottish and has displayed impressive range by tackling everything from Mr. Tumnus, the gentle faun in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, to the ultraviolent assassin Wesley Gibson in last year's Wanted. And 19-year-old Radcliffe — well, you know him.

These are all surprisingly young choices for a character that's supposed to be 50 years old. (Although that's in hobbit years. So maybe 50 is the equivalent of 30 in human years? Any Tolkien experts want to clarify?) Tennant has an advantage in being the oldest of the three candidates, but he's also the tallest at 6'1". Obviously, trick photography and digital manipulation could shrink his stature to hobbit size, but Del Toro may save himself a lot of grief by simply choosing a shorter star. Radcliffe is listed as 5'6" — having met the actor, that may even be an inch too generous — so he's closer to the right height. But although Radcliffe turns 20 later this July, he's still too young in my mind. More problematic is the concern that many moviegoers won't be able to shake off the idea that Radcliffe is, and always will be, Harry Potter.

That leaves us with McAvoy, who's 5'7", older than Radcliffe, and a splendid actor to boot (he deserved an Oscar nomination for holding his own against Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland). But what do you think, PopWatchers? Put on your casting hats and tell us who should be selected for the role of Bilbo Baggins:


Comments (82 total) Add your comment
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  • Mary

    I would love James McAvoy, but I also think Martin Freeman would be great. Plus, he is more “hobbitty” looking than all three of the other suggestions.

  • dani

    I gotta say David Tennant kinda looks like the guy who played Bilbo in LOTR.

  • Adam

    I think casting an unknown is the best way to go. It’s already an established franchise, no need for a big star.

  • Ellen

    It’s worth bearing in mind that in the Lord of the Rings books, Frodo was also 50 when he set out, so it always felt a little strange to me seeing Elijah Wood earnest his way through the film. None of them fit the bill as the more plump, awkward Bilbo of the books, but if they’re looking for movie star types Tennant works better acting style wise. Daniel Radcliffe just isn’t a very good actor, is far too grave for Bilbo, and can’t get away with carrying another major franchise so soon. I adore James McAvoy but, realistically, putting my geek cap on, he’s more elf than hobbit. Still, I can’t say I would have chosen any of these guys. My choice would be the wonderful Russell Tovey, who plays the reluctant werewolf in the BBC’s ‘Being Human’. He can pull off just the right combination of lost and absurd.

  • David M

    MARTIN FREEMAN.
    You either know him as Tim on the British “Office”, or as Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker’s Guide film.
    We’ve been saying it since the beginning. He’s completely perfect. He read for a role in “The Lovely Bones,” so PJ knows of his existence. None of these other guys look right… and I don’t think Radcliffe needs another franchise…

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Anybody but Harry Potter, I don’t want to have to break my vow and watch something with Harry in it!!

  • AnaB

    I agree with David M… Martin Freeman would be a great choice for young Bilbo. Not to mention he kinda looks like Ian Holm…
    But I’m also a huge James McAvoy fan. If he gets cast, I’ll be thrilled! =D

  • dirtyvicar

    Martin Freeman is a great idea.

  • Chris

    Better start that Martin Freeman petition. That is a great suggestion.

  • CountryBoy

    Just Google Imaged Martin Freeman. Everyone’s right– he looks perfect: not only “hobbity,” but also convincingly like a young Ian Holm. Get Guillermo and Peter on the phone and make the arrangements!

  • Jessica

    I do think he might be too gangly, but David Tennant is SUCH a fantastic actor, I think he could anchor the films really well.

  • Briana

    James McAvoy is hot!

  • Laura K.

    Frodo isn’t fifty when he sets out. I believe he’s 33.

    • LOTR

      No, he’s thirty when bilbo leaves, he’s fifty when he sets out on his journey

  • Karen

    Yes, I believe 50 in hobbit years is not the same as it would be in human years. If I remember right, hobbits don’t “come of age” until 33. Whether they are full grown physically before that time, I’m not sure. But I’m with you, Ellen, it was a little odd that the 18-or-19-year-old Elijah Wood was playing 50-year-old Frodo. Regardless, I do NOT want to see Daniel Radcliffe as Bilbo. I don’t even care for him as Harry Potter, and I love those books as much as I love LOTR. Anyone but Daniel Radcliffe! I’d rather they just taped Sir Ian Holm’s wrinkles back again like they did at the beginning of FOTR and had him play the part. :)

  • Barry

    I guess Ian Holm is out? How about Tobey Jones or Paul Giamatti?

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