Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen confirmed for The Hobbit: Who's next?

The casting news keeps coming for The Hobbit! Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen have officially signed on to reprise the roles of Gollum and Gandalf—and even more familiar faces may be returning as well.

According to Deadline, a deal has been closed for Serkis to once again don the motion-capture suit and perform the role of Gollum for director Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of The Hobbit. Serkis' portrayal of the doomed creature in The Lord of the Rings was a breakthrough both for him and for the art of motion capture, bringing Gollum to life almost entirely through CG.

Meanwhile, has confirmed that Ian McKellen has also officially signed his contract to portray Gandalf the Grey, one of the few characters who plays a major role in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The news comes on the heels of last week's spectacular revelation that Elijah Wood was also coming back as Frodo Baggins for scenes that will frame the story and provide a link to the earlier Rings movies.

But more names from the Lord of the Rings trilogy may be returning as well. Deadline says that Christopher Lee is in talks to reprise the role of the wizard Saruman, and that Ian Holm may cameo as the older version of Bilbo Baggins, which he played in the Rings movies (the younger Bilbo will be played by Martin Freeman in The Hobbit). Both Cate Blanchett's Galadriel and Hugo Weaving's Elrond are expected to show up in the films as well, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas may also make an appearance.

As noted before, Jackson and his co-writers (Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens and one-time director Guillermo del Toro) may have stretched their adaptation of The Hobbit to fit some of these characters into that novel's storyline. But we would be lying if we didn't admit that the thought of seeing these actors playing their beloved roles again almost overrides any concerns about liberties taken with the text.

Are you looking forward to seeing so many Rings alumni in The Hobbit?

More from around the web