The Hobbit has certainly had its share of obstacles. However, in spite of Union-related production drama, the good news is starting to outweigh the bad. According to a report from Deadline that has been confirmed by New Line, the recently greenlit film now has its star. Years of speculation and rumors have finally been validated: Martin Freeman is officially Bilbo Baggins. While he was initially unable to take the role due to commitments to BBC series Sherlock, it seems that arrangements were made to accommodate his schedule. Also, as hard as it is to believe, that tidbit of news is just scratching the surface. It seems that reports of Director/Producer Peter Jackson being at work to cast the film were more true than we could have possibly known. Eight more cast members have been officially named, including that of the story's other primary character Dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield. The list is a healthy mix of a few familiar faces with a lot of head-scratchers. So, let's take our first look at who we have in store for the two-part epic set for 2012 and 2013.

According to Peter Jackson, his choice of Martin Freeman (star of the original UK version of The Office and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) was destiny:

"Despite the various rumors and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us," Peter Jackson said. There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave -- exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit."
Richard Armitage: "Thorin Oakenshield"

Filling what may actually be the film's second most critical role, this Brit may be on the verge of stardom. Making an impact on British TV with series such as MI-5, Robin Hood, and Strike Back, he's also lined-up for a role in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger. For the role of Throrin, the interplay he will have with Bilbo will become the pathos centerpiece of the legendary journey. Peter Jackson, must therefore have complete confidence in filling this important piece of the puzzle with Armitage. On his selection, Jackson certainly validates that notion as he comments:

"Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands."

Rob Kazinsky: "Fili"

The star of British TV's EastEnders will make an interesting addition, providing some energy and possibly some comic relief as one of the two young brother Dwarves who are the nephews of Thorin. Jackson comments:

"Rob is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him. I'm thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter and I'm looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding Goblins."

Aidan Turner: "Kili"

Most recognizable to US audiences as the refreshingly un-emo vampire Mitchell on the BBC's Being Human, his Kili should bring some great brotherly, almost Merry and Pippin-like interplay with Kazinsky's Fili. Jackson comments:

"Aidan is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I'm sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kili."

Graham McTavish: "Dwalin"

Seen recently in Rambo, a stint on 24, as well as memorably berating a time-flashing Desmond on Lost, the longtime Scottish tough-guy can be currently seen in Secretariat. He's also known to gamers as the voice of Dante in Dante's Inferno and as Arl Eamon in Dragon Age Origins. He will no doubt bring his brand of bad-assery to Middle Earth. Jackson comments:

"Graham is a terrific actor, with a great depth of experience, which I know he will bring to the role of Dwalin."

John Callen: "Oin"

There's not much out there to find about the Kiwi actor, and his voice work on Power Rangers Jungle Fury seems to be listed as a signature resume item. However, what may interest fans, is that his character is actually future Fellowship member Gimli's uncle.

Peter Hambleton: "Gloin"

Another Kiwi acquisition will be set to play the older brother of Oin and father of Gimli. Interestingly enough, the character was seen in The Fellowship of the Ring at the Council of Elrond as an extra. Johnathan Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli was said to have been offered the part of playing his character's own father, but declined, due to the "punishment" he endured playing Gimli.

Stephen Hunter: "Bombur"

Known from Australian TV shows such as All Saints and Love My Way, he will portray the clumsy, rotund comic relief of the Dwarf group. (The jury's still out on whether or not he lives "in a van down by the river.")

Mark Hadlow: "Dori"

The Kiwi actor is no stranger to Peter Jackson, going back to appearances in the director's early effort Meet the Feebles, to a role as in his 2005 remake of King Kong. He'll be portraying the flute-playing, sometimes-whiny Dwarf with a big appetite.

Regarding the rest of the cast, Jackson remarks:

"I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects, he is a fantastic actor...I am also proud to annoucne [sic] the casting of New Zealand actors as Peter Hambleton, John Callen and Stephen Hunter. Fran and I know that they will bring great depth and talent to our Company of Dwarves."

These are interesting choices for the Dwarves. What's immediately clear, is that Jackson intends to differentiate this group of Dwarves from the stereotype (for lack of a better word) set for the race as tough, stubborn, and clumsy as shown with Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films. The idea of one Hobbit, a Wizard, and thirteen Dwarves on a journey for two whole movies did not sound like the most auspicious movie-fodder. However, the casting makes it evident that The Hobbit may end up being in part, a road movie without a car. (Mixed with kick-ass creatures, a fire-breathing dragon, and a gigantic battle.)

While Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, (and possibly Cate Blanchett) seemingly locks for returns, respectively as Gandalf, Gollum, Elrond, and Galadriel, there are still quite a few slots to fill. As of now, the roles of Dwarves Balin (you know, the dusty bones in the tomb in Moria?), Bifur, Bofur, Nori, and Ori are not set. Plus, there's also the trio of Trolls, Shapeshifter Beorn, Elven King Thranduil, Bard the Bowman, not to mention -- Smaug the Dragon (Which James Nesbitt is strongly rumored to fill.) And lest we forget, former Dr. Who's David Tennant and Sylvester McCoy may still be in the mix somewhere as well. 

So, assuming that you're even somewhat of a respectable LOTR fan: Just how much are you freaking out about all of this?