Billy Connolly joins Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’

Wide Screen

Scottish actor Billy Connolly ("The X Files: I Want to Believe") has always had a somewhat whimsical quality about him, so it's not all that surprising to hear the news that the comedian is set to join Peter Jackson's epic fantasy "The Hobbit." Is it really such a stretch to believe that the heavily-bearded and brogued actor could convincingly play a dwarf from Middle Earth? It's the role he was born to play!

Deadline reports that Connolly will play legendary warrior Dain Ironfoot, cousin to the film's primary Dwarven hero Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Dain appears at a pivotal moment in the story of "The Hobbit," helping to turn the tide of a dire battle.

Connolly has exactly the kind of big personality needed to play the larger-than-life Dwarven King. There had been rumours that bellowing actor Brian Blessed ("Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace") would play King Dain, but the producers apparently decided that the younger Connolly would be a better fit.

With filming on the two-part movie winding down, the role of King Dain was one of the last to be cast. Connolly joins other actors new to J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy universe including Martin Freeman, Evangelline Lily, and Luke Evans. Returning "Lord of the Rings" vets include Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, and Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will be released in December of this year, followed by "The Hobbit: There and Back Again" in 2013.