Peter Jackson told Heat Vision that casting will begin this week for The Hobbit, with wide auditions expected for each part except Gandalf, which is being reserved for Ian McKellen, who played the wizard in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Here is what he had to say:
"We're auditioning for every role," Jackson said. "Apart from Ian McKellen, who we obviously want to return as Gandalf, we are not really offering any roles to anybody until we've done a casting sweep."
What we've done over the years is discover a lot of interesting actors, like Orlando Bloom (in The Lord of the Rings), Kate Winslet (in Heavenly Creatures), Saoirse Ronan (in The Lovely Bones). So if you start looking and auditioning seriously, it's amazing what incredible talent you'll find out there."
"(These movies) have never been a star-driven vehicle. The star is (author J.R.R.) Tolkien and the world he created. We are not under any pressure. We want to find the right people. Casting someone to portray a hobbit is not as easy as you might imagine. They have to have a particular type of physical appearance and a sensibility. And the same with an elf or a dwarf. These are fantastical characters, but you've got to find the right people to play them, the right humans to translate these characters."
Jackson also denied rumors that production was delayed, saying that they were always planning to start shooting around April or May of 2010. Source: Movieweb.com