Astin up for Hobbit if Hobbit up for him

Sean Astin told SCI FI Wire that he'd be thrilled to reprise his Lord of the Rings film trilogy role as Sam Gamgee in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of The Hobbit. However, because the Rings' beloved quartet of hobbits don't actually appear in The Hobbit, Astin doubts that he'll be asked to appear in the films.

Astin's comments run counter to those of his Rings co-star Dominic Monaghan, who told MTV News in January that he believes that he, Astin, Billy Boyd and Elijah Wood will play some role in the two Hobbit features. The films will be produced by Rings mastermind Peter Jackson and directed by Guillermo del Toro.

SCI FI Wire spoke to Astin today while he was promoting ION Television's upcoming miniseries The Color of Magic. Following are edited excerpts from that exclusive interview, in which he also talked about the 10th anniversary of filming The Lord of the Rings and his other upcoming genre projects.

Dominic Monaghan said he thinks the hobbits will be in The Hobbit even though they're not in the book. What are your thoughts on the possibility?

Astin: I wouldn't personally expect to be back. Peter knows that he just has to tell me when and where to show up and I'll be there. But I don't know. I don't know. I don't what's going on with that. Everyone would say during the releases of the Rings films, "Oh, will The Hobbit ever get made?" There was all this political stuff. The studio had only certain rights, and they wouldn't do it unless they had all the rights, and they weren't ever going to make a deal with the other company that had the other rights, and blah, blah, blah. I always just said, "You people are out of your minds. Of course it's going to be made, and it'll be great and Peter will do it. And there it is." And they're doing it. So I'm excited. I'm excited to see them. But I personally don't expect them to call me.

How hard is it to believe that it's nearly 10 years since you started principal photography on Fellowship?

Astin: Not yet.

The first film was released in December 2001, and you started shooting in 1999 ...

Astin: Oct. 10, 1999. I got you on a technicality, but mostly because when you said it my heart went into my throat, like, "Oh my God, really?"

You and your wife are currently adapting the youth novel Number the Stars into a script that you'll produce and direct together, but you also have a couple of genre projects to talk about. You're the voice of Oso, a stuffed panda spy-in-training, in Special Agent Oso, a Disney Playhouse series premiering on April 4. And then there's the animated film Spirit of the Forest.

Astin: [Special Agent Oso] is programming designed for little kids, little-little kids, 2 and 3 years old. It pays homage to James Bond movies. They take a Bond title and switch it around to a little kid's name. Oso is a panda bear, maybe 16-18 inches tall. He's bumbling, but he's a total adventure guy and he's got all the gadgets. He's got this thing on his vest and it talks to him and tells him what to do. He's got a submarine and a spaceship. He's trying to become a full-fledged special agent, and [each episode] he gets deployed to help some kids learn an everyday task, how to do a puzzle, make your bed, bake a cake, go to the library. He messes up the steps and the kids help him figure it out, and he helps them figure it out. Anyway, I'm really proud of it, and I spent more time on it than Lord of the Rings and Color of Magic and every other movie I've done combined. I've just worked forever on this little animated TV series.

And what is Spirit of the Forest? If the IMDB is correct, the voice cast includes you, Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman and Giovanni Ribisi.

Astin: I don't know if that's just come out or just about to come out. For every good lefty liberal like me it's fun to have an environmental animated film come out. It's for little kids as well, and it was done in Spain. It's an original Spanish [production], and then they came over and hired recognizable American actors to re-voice the Spanish ones so that they could release it more broadly in America and in the English-speaking world.

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