McKellen will again be directed by Peter Jackson, who directed the actor in the same role in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy of films. Several of the actor's co-stars, including Elijah Wood (Frodo), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), will also appear in the two films, which are prequels to the successful literary and cinematic "Rings" series. McKellen, a Tony Award winner for Amadeus, has also appeared on Broadway in Dance of Death, Ian McKellen: A Knight Out at the Lyceum, Wild Honey, Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare and The Promise. He recently appeared on the London stage in Waiting for Godot. An Academy Award nominee for the first "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Fellowship of the Ring," and for "Gods and Monsters," he is also known for his appearances in for the "X-Men" films and "The Da Vinci Code."
"The Hobbit" is set to begin filming in New Zealand in February.