Casting for The Hobbit begins!

OK, all you New Zealand hopefuls ... start slathering Rogaine on your feet. Casting for the first part of director Guillermo del Toro's two-part version of The Hobbit (for the present simply called The Hobbit, Part 1) has officially begun today.

TheOneRing.Net reports that the address for the casting of principals through Liz Mullane Casting will be announced later, and that the casting of extras will be handled by Miranda Rivers in Wellington, New Zealand. Mulane has worked with Hobbit producer Peter Jackson going all the way back to his Heavenly Creatures and The Frighteners days. Rivers has previously handled casting for the earlier Lord of the Rings movies, as well as Jackson's King Kong.

Now, one thing you really have to hand to Jackson-produced movies is that the casting is usually pretty awesome. Remember that almost no one had heard of Kate Winslet before Jackson and company got hold of her for Heavenly Creatures, and think of all the people who became big stars after appearing in Jackson's vision of Middle-earth.

Who do you think has been Jackson's best discovery? Orlando Bloom? Winslet? Dominic Monaghan? The Sumatran Rat-Monkey from Braindead, aka Dead Alive?

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