Daniel Radcliffe? David Tennant? Vote on the best star for ‘The Hobbit’

July 16, 2009 | 4:32 p.m.

The Hobbit Who doesn’t love a good casting rumor? The whisper we keep hearing in recent days is that the name of the lead star in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Hobbit” will be announced next week at Comic-Con International


A few people also point out that David Tennant, one of the purported candidates for the role of Bilbo Bagginsjust happens to be making his very first trip to the San Diego expo to promote “Doctor Who,” a television series that he will soon be leaving behind. Peter Jackson, the producer of the two-film “Hobbit” series that begins its theater run in 2011, is also slated to appear this year, and, well you can see the dot-connecting possibilities. …

I think Tennant would be exceptional in the role, but I’m even more enthused about the notion of seeing James McAvoy portray the itinerant Bilbo. The Scotsman has shown amazing versatility in roles in “Atonement,” “The Last King of Scotland” and “Wanted,” and, in the fantasy sector, there was McAvoy’s memorable turn as Mr. Tumnus in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Daniel Radcliffe, who is now filming the final two “Harry Potter” films, has been mentioned, too, as has roly-poly funnyman Jack Black (that has to be a joke, right? We’ve seen that before..). Who do you think would be the best to visit the Shire? Vote below or use the comments section to post a name.

— Geoff Boucher


Daniel Radcliffe

ON THE SET: Daniel Radcliffe says Hogwarts was his school of acting

REVIEW: Kenny Turan on “Harry Potter and the Half-Bood Prince”

COMIC-CON: The “Doctor Who” rumors are flying

Prepare for the “Del Toro Decade” — the filmmaker talks “Hobbit,” “Drood” and “Frankenstein” 

Doctor Who, fighting the past and looking to the future

Discount Doctor: Tennant’s replacement came cheap

A travesty: The Tolkien heirs didn’t make a cent off of the “Lord of the Rings” films

CREDIT: Daniel Radcliffe in 2008 photographed by Junko KimuraI/Getty Images.  


36 Responses to Daniel Radcliffe? David Tennant? Vote on the best star for ‘The Hobbit’

  1. Ann says:

    Isn't a hobbit supposed to be short?
    I absolutely adore David Tennant and he could act anything and do it beautifully, but he's over 6 feet tall.
    Radcliffe is going to be busy finishing up HP for a while and I can't see him as a hobbit.
    Jack Black? Good heavens, that's just awful.
    McAvoy? He's all right, but nowhere in Tennant's class as an actor. A bit shorter though.
    None of these really make sense.
    If Tennant has to do a big Hollywood movie (I'd rather see him stick to British stuff), I'd rather see him play the Riddler in a Batman movie.

    • Amanda M.-Roberts says:

      I agree with your first three assessments, but would have to say that I think McAvoy would be wonderful as Bilbo. He has already shown he can do a great job in fantasy, as Mr. Tumnus; and has shown his versatility with his recent role as Charles Xavier. I definitely hope he gets the part.

  2. Kip says:

    ..Uhm, can we vote for "none of the above?"
    As Ann observed, Tennant is an excellent actor, but tall and svelte, frankly making him much more suited to playing a Tolkien elf than a hobbit. Jack Black…No, just No. One of the reasons Jackson's LOTR was so successful was that it took itself seriously. I don't need Jack Black winking at the audience trashing my suspension of disbelief. Daniel Radcliffe, too young. Biblo was a middle aged Hobbit, just getting comfortable in the "settling down" part of his life when he was yanked along on a quest. Same for McAvoy who is not only too young, he has yet to impress me as a performer.

  3. Miss Kitty says:

    I've long imagined Jon Bon Jovi in the role.

  4. Jim says:

    Frankly, my vote would be for Sir Ian Holm…

  5. Engeline says:

    I adore Tennant's work, so this would be a very out – of character thing to do, but I agree – he's too tall, though brilliant. (Who knows, perhaps they could make it work with technology these days? Allow me some wishful thinking.)
    I wouldn't mind MacAvoy. I watched him on stage in London, and though he's nowhere near Tennant, he's still doing a nice enough job. I liked him as Mr. Tumnus, though he had some trouble with his "bedroom eyes", and some of the scenes became slightly spookey. The eyes wouldn't be a problem should he play Bilbo, (rather on the contrary, I'd say), so I say Yes. Cannot think of anyone else I'd rather see as my fav hobbit.

  6. Splash says:

    Harry Potter as Bilbo? That's a joke, right? (Please, God, let it be a joke.)

  7. Yvette says:

    John Rhys-Davies is 6'1" and he was able to play Gimli, so I see no reason why they couldn't pull off using David Tennant is Bilbo. McAvoy would be great though.

  8. Naj says:

    @Ann- Height doesn't matter. At 6ft+ John Rhys Davies is the tallest member of the Fellowship- and he's Gimli.
    Actors' heights aside, I think James McAvoy would be a nice choice, though it seems David Tennant is most likely to be chosen.

  9. Jay says:

    Ever since I heard a rumor a few years ago abut Martin Freeman playing Bilbo, I can't imagine anyone else. Watch his reluctance to joining the adventure in the 'Hitchhikers' movie and his work on the British 'Office.' He's the right age, the right frame, and the right temperament. Plus, he's not super famous (at least here in the U.S.).
    And Jack Black as Bilbo is stupid, but as a Dwarf? Hmm…

  10. Mike says:


  11. Steve says:

    You folks do know that the tallest member of the LOTR cast was John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli the dwarf. Height is not an issue with special-effects/CGI/camera tricks
    Just thought I'd point that out..

  12. Len says:

    As most of you know, it doesn't take a short actor to look short on film, but it helps.
    Jack Black doesn't have the calibur acting chops needed for the role, Daniel Radcliffe is simply too young for the role (as Bilbo was not exactly young hobbit during his journey to Erebor (The Lonely Mountain))
    I heard Colm Meany was also in line – He has the looks for the role, but not the acting chops (for Bilbo's character.
    Whatever will be will be, as they say, I guess, as the choice really isn't ours anyway…

  13. lopez says:

    for those who think Tennant is too tall, John Rhys-Davies is 6'1" and made a perfectly acceptable Dwarf. Don't forget these are practically animated movies they are so CGI heavy…

  14. Citizen says:

    I love Tennant in Dr. Who, but no, just doesn't fit, precisly because he will always be the Doctor for many (including me). Same goes for Radcliffe, that besides being already the star of another fantasy franchise, is really not that good an actor (yet?). Black would be terrible stunt casting and while I like him as comedian he just can't really pull serious roles (QED: King Kong). So the only one left would be McAvoy, who is not yet overexposed and hasn't had one of those defining roles, though he acted marvelous in every film I've seen him in. But actually, I would really prefer a totally fresh face.

  15. Cris says:

    James McAvoy not in Tennant's class as an actor? That must be a joke, right? McAvoy is maybe the most praised young actor nowadays, amazingly versatile and classically trained. He shined in every movie he has done so far, and he can play anyone, from a faun to a murderous chef in a modern version of "Macbeth".
    He's a good choice for any film with a good and intelligent script, so if this is the case for The Hobbit, he's a good choice for it.

  16. Joe Bua says:

    Cris, when James McAvoy gets the raves that Tennant did in Hamlet this past year then I'll relent.
    Not until then.

  17. AG says:

    Martin Freeman? Hadn't considered that possibility before, but now that you say it, BRILLIANT. Not to dismiss any of the talent mentioned above (though Jack Black… um, no) but Mr. Freeman has the right physicality for the task — what can I say, he just moves the way I would expect a middle-aged hobbit, not entirely comfortable with his new role in life, to move. Radcliffe's too young to embody that easily and Tennant… well, I don't think there's much Tennant can't do, and the quick puckish intelligence works, but I'm not ready for a world in which Casanova becomes a hobbit.

  18. Kip says:

    First of all, thank you L.A. Times for starting an internet riot of rumor based on the most irrational speculations. I am impressed.
    Peter Jackson, BTW has said there will be no announcement about the casting of the Hobbit anytime soon,. They have not even finished the script yet.
    In response to everyone who pointed out that John Rhys Davies is over six feet tell. Gimli, a dwarf, was over a foot taller than the Hobbits. Almost all of the group shots you see Gimli in, where you see him standing with other actors, he is being played by Davies' stunt double Brett Beadie who spent more hours playing Gimli than Davies did.
    The actors that played the Hobbits were all 5 foot 7 inches and under. This means that Tennant, who is half a foot taller than Dominic Monaghan, would have to be digitally shrunk down even more. And he would have to be set further back from the actors he is playing against in forced perspective shots.
    Then there is the simple matter of Tennant's build. To put it generously, the man is svelte. To be blunt, he is, as he describes himself, "a skinny streak of piss". He is bean pole with angular features, rather than the soft rounded ones of hobbits (remember they had Sean Astin gain weight for his role, and he was built pretty sturdy to begin with). So what you would have a awkwardly tiny featured, willowy hobbit. In short, a small elf.
    So is it possible for him to play the part? Sure. Would it look good? They would have to work *very* hard to make it look good.

  19. celia says:

    It would be awesome if Daniel Radcliffe did it, but he's way too busy with Harry Potter. But I would LOVE it if James McAvoy did it. That would be great.

  20. SCD says:

    You've got to go with Sir Ian as first choice, hands down!! But failing that … for an out of the box pick try The Last Detective's Sean Hughes!

  21. KW says:

    What about the fact that they already showed Ian Holm playing Bilbo in the Trilogy?
    Are we going to have another Anakin incident now?

  22. sketchRtist says:

    Tennent would be the best for the role. Not only is he an amazing actor but the fact that he is the appropriate age for what you mentally picture Bilbo at,early to mid thirties our age(whatever that ends up being for the hobbits) Radcliffe is too young and way to busy(focus on Deathly Hollows please) and McAvoy would be ok, but I don't think he'll play Bilbo quite right.

  23. Greg M says:

    Duh! It has to be Elijah Wood. Enough time has passed since the LOTR was filmed that his Bilbo wouldn't look just like Frodo.

  24. cate says:

    I'd rather they went with an unknown.Ian Holm, though wonderful, is far too old. David Tennant does not have the right morphology. James McAvoy is good but everywhere and Daniel Radcliff can't act.

  25. patrick bowie says:

    Tony Shalhoub should play bilbo baggins

  26. Charly says:

    If David Tennant doesn't play Bilbo Baggins I am going to be completely crushed. He is the epitome of Bilbo as a young man. I already see him as Bilbo, what a waste it would be if he isn't cast.

  27. Larry says:

    I think James McAvoy would be the best choice.
    Maybe the fans of LOTR, Hobbit, Middle Earth need to
    start an online petition for McAvoy to get the part of
    Bilbo Baggins. The Man can act. It would be a great way
    to start off the casting by announcing that McAvoy landed
    the role as Bilbo. Fans of Middle Earth. Together we can
    make this happen.

  28. Guest says:

    Ideal: A younger Ian Holm. After that I would have to take either Martin Freeman or an unknown. Other notable choices are Michael Sheen and Tom Hollander (both excellent actors and Sheen can pass as a hobbit with make-up, Hollander already looks Hobbitty).
    Colin Firth is another, but I think he may be too overexposed and is too old, ironically.
    Tennant has the acting ability and right amount of quirkiness to play Bilbo, but he just doesn't feel right and he'd have to gain some weight. The problem isn't in his height, but his proportionality. John Rhys-Davies had the right build for a dwarf, Tennant clearly doesn't have the build for a Hobbit. While heavy duty make-up and CGI can cover for that, it's better to forgo such things for the sake of believability. And somehow I don't see the guy who play Barty Crouch and Dr. Who as Bilbo.
    Radcliffe doesn't have the chops to play Bilbo Baggins, is too overexposed, and much too young. As Bilbo is in his fifties, that's in late 20s or 30s for humans. He's also stuck with being Harry Potter for the rest of his life.
    McAvoy is also too young, and is not right for Bilbo. He's not an overt pretty-boy, but he is no where near quirky enough to play Bilbo. I'm not even going to comment on Jack Black. Anyone who mentions Tobey Maguire, Shia LeBeouf, or anyone American for that matter has a serious lack of judgement. Undiscovered talent is best, or underexposed. And please, no more pleads for Gerard Butler as Bard.

  29. AndyMor says:

    One name comes to mind MARTIN FREEMAN!
    Check out his c.v. including
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    The Office (original UK version)
    Micro Men
    Boy Meets Girl
    The Good Night (opposite Gwyneth Paltrow)

  30. Joe says:

    Honestly, I'm surprised that more people aren't bashing the concept of having Radliff as Bilbo, I can barely stand him as Harry Pothead let alone him taking ruining rains over another Fantasy Icon… Bilbo is a warm hearted and open hobbit who is adventurous, Radcliff seems uptight and always awkward like he is struggling to perform lines with emotion. Bilbo needs an actor who can step in his shoes and bring us along his journey, not repeat lines like a homely cyborb noone can relate too. Maybe a young frodo or something, but Not Bilbong Baggins. – Martin Freeman, maybe, he has the look and hobbit feel.. Tennant is TOO Lanky, looks nothing like a hobbit, and certainly not like ian holmes if you want coninuity… Mccvoy, I can see that. Jack Black, that's a joke, A Dwarf would work though, hilarious!

  31. Keith Adams USA says:

    I would like to nominate some fellow Yanks for the coveted role of Bilbo:
    Steve Zahn (looks like a young Ian Holm)
    Rainn Wilson (The Office US Version)
    Zach Galifianakis (fat, maybe too fat)
    and the best Yank for the job: Philip Seymour Hoffman!! (an Oscar winner anyone?)

  32. John says:

    I'm sorry, but they should have had Peter Jackson direct this movie. Guellermo Del Toro will only ruin it. Look what he did to the Hellboy franchise! That guy has to be the worst director since Terry Zweighoff.
    With that said, I don't think they are looking at a qualified actor to play Bilbo, they are probably going to hire the one that's guaranteed to be the most profitable.
    As for Jack Black, Maybe for a Hobbit spoof, but not the real thing. But I know that rumor is BS.

  33. Elliot says:

    David Tennant has got to be the goofiest looking guy on the planet – I’ve been told he’s considered a heart-throb-maybe in an AU but the other candidates minus Black could all pull it off.

  34. Sim Simma says:

    I would say Daniel Radcliffe for two reasons:

    1) He's quite short

    2) He would be awesome at playing Hobbit.

    But he's filming the final part of Deathly Hallows at the minute.

    James would be great for the part too, he was superb as Mr Tumnus in The Chronicles Of Narnia 1.

  35. Sim Simma says:

    Sorry, I meant to say Bilbo Baggins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis