A Change of Hobbit

“Rings” prequels are on the way. Who do you think should play Bilbo?

The clearing of the path for two movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is cause for a Shire-like celebration far beyond Middle-earth.

Legal wrangling, as fans know, tied up the long-awaited prequels to Peter Jackson’s brilliant cinematic rendering of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Now all the filmmakers have to do is create the new movies, which is going to take a lot more than just a wave of Gandalf’s staff.

Jackson is set to produce the flicks, but will be replaced in the director’s chair by Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”). Ian McKellen reportedly will return as Gandalf, while Andy Serkis is said to be onboard to reprise his role as Gollum, the CGI-enhanced villain obsessed with his “precioussss.”

But the key to “The Hobbit,” of course, is Bilbo Baggins, the rare adventure-seeking Shire denizen whose epic journey across Middle-earth notches him the ring and sets the stage for the trilogy.

So the big question is: who will play little Bilbo?

Daniel Radcliffe’s name has been tossed around. But the “Harry Potter” star, who shed his clothes on stage in “Equus” in a bid to help shed his boy-wizard image, told the Los Angeles Times last month he has no interest in getting involved in another fantasy adventure series.

“Whatever I do next, I don't think there will be any wizards in it!" he said.

Radcliffe cast his vote for James McAvoy, whose movies include “Atonement,” “The Last King of Scotland” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” David Tennant, best known for his starring in the British sci-fi franchise “Dr. Who,” also has been floated as a possible Bilbo.

So we put it you movie fans: who would like to see as Bilbo? Use the comments section below to pick a ring bearer.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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