Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse) has signed on to play Smaug the Dragon (via motion capture) in Peter Jackson’s latest Hobibit flick The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie is due to make its début via Warners on Dec. 14, 2012. The second movie The Hobbit: There and Back Again is slated for release on December 13th, 2013. Both movies are currently being filmed back to back in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Cumberbatch continues his role as Sherlock Holmes on the BAFTA Award winning BBC/PBS series, Sherlock. Martin Freeman (who plays Dr. Watson, opposite Cumberbatch in the show) signed on to play younger Bilbo Baggins earlier this year, with Ian Holm reprising his role as the elder Bilbo.
The cast includes a number of Lord of the Rings veterans including Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey; Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Orlando Bloom as Legolas; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum.