Nerd News: Pushing Daisies With ‘The Hobbit’

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Right on the heels of last week's The Hobbit losses and gains, here's two more pieces of casting news to chalk up on the “gains” side: New Zealand actor Dean O'Gorman has been cast as the dwarf Fíli following Rob Kazinksy's departure, and Lee Pace will play the Elven King Thranduil. O'Gorman is mostly known these days for his work on Kiwi television show The Almighty Johnsons, though he's been working since he was a teenager and has appeared on such shows as Farscape, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena Warrior Princess. Pace, of course, is mostly known for his work as Ned on the excellent yet prematurely canceled show Pushing Daisies; he's also got spectacular chops, though, having trained at the Julliard School's drama division. He first made waves as a transgendered woman dating a soldier in the 2003 film Soldier's Girl, and he is currently appearing on Broadway in a revival of The Normal Heart. Good for him.

Here's what's interesting about this casting to me: Ned (who I fell unabashedly in love with during the run of the show) was just such a nice guy. While nice guys can often be boring, though, Pace somehow managed to make him not only likable, as nice guys usually are, but also fascinating. He wasn't terribly brave and he often did the wrong thing in sticky situations, but he was always trying to do the right thing, and that made for some compelling television. Thranduil, on the other hand, is NOT a nice guy. In fact, he's kind of a dick. Not only does he capture Bilbo and the dwarfs the second they set foot on Mirkwood territory, but even worse, he throws them all into the dungeon when they won't tell him where they're going. He's also a little more interested in treasure than most elves tend to be. Oh, and did I mention that he's Legolas' father? Because he is. You heard me: Lee Pace apparently spawned Orlando Bloom. Who knew? Anyway, given that Pace is mostly known for having played a nice guy, this casting news may come as a bit of a surprise.

But there's a flip side, of course: Word from Peter Jackson is that he saw Pace's performance in Tarsem Singh's film The Fall and has wanted to work with him ever since. This makes a lot of sense, because while the character of injured and heartbroken Roy Walker isn't exactly a dick, he's definitely not a nice guy. He's selfish, but he's a very interesting sort of selfish– it's the sort of selfishness that still leaves you caring about him (by the by, if you haven't seen the film, I recommend it; it's sort of a fantasy film in the same way that Pan's Labyrinth is a fantasy film– that is, it's fantasy that serves a higher purpose). So, this could be a well-done piece of casting indeed, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Is it 2012 yet?

[Via The Mary Sue]