The laundry list of casting notices for Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" havr mysteriously excluded a pair of well known names from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, actors whose characters appear throughout J.R. Tolkein's Middle Earth saga: Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis.  The Brits seem to have locked down their participation after reports today that both actors have made deals to appear in the two-part "Hobbit."

McKellen is set to reprise his role as the powerful wizard Galdalf the Grey (not to be confused with Gandalf the White) and Serkis will have a small, but pivotal return as the precious loving Gollum.  Warner Bros. has confirmed Serkis return to HitFix, but won't jump on the news that McKellen will be back (yet).  It's clear the legendary thespian's participation is becoming more difficult to negotiate than either side had anticipated.

Other reports indicate that 88-year-old Christopher Lee will be back as Saruman and Ian Holm will cameo as the elder version of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman is already on board to play the younger version of the character).  Heat Vision also says an offer is on the table for Orlando Bloom to return as Legolas, but it's unclear whether he will accept.

Casting will have to wrap up soon as "The Hobbit" is scheduled to begin shooting next month in New Zealand.

With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.