We’ve already heard that Peter Jackson plans on making a solid connection between his Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings films, but he wasn’t letting on just how.
Now we know, albeit to a certain extent, because Hobbit actor Benedict Cumberbatch revealed a number of plot-points during a recent interview with Empire Magazine on the sidelines of his hit show Sherlock.
Of course, Cumberbatch also made the news recently for being chosen as the enigmatic villain in the as yet unnamed Star Trek sequel.
Unsurprisingly, he’s also playing a villain in The Hobbit. Specifically, he’ll be taking on the roles of both Smaug and the Necromancer.
Smaug is a dragon, and the Necromancer is a figure who was only mentioned in the original novels - but LOTR fans know he becomes Sauron in the subsequent books.
"I'm playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer," the actor said, "which is a character in the [Battle of Five Armies,] I'm meant to understand. He's not actually in the original Hobbit. It's something [Peter Jackson]'s taken from Lord of the Rings that he wants to put in there."
So, Sauron is going to play a greater role in The Hobbit. This goes a long way in explaining where the material is going to come from for two films (the original book is actually fairly short compared to its sequels). The Battle of the Five Armies with Sauron at its head will make a fine climax for the first film, as the characters finish their time in Mirkwood, and prepare to head into the mountains to face Smaug.
In addition, it will create a better connection for how the goblins are tied to Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, linking the films even further, while fleshing out the original stories in some places where it was a bit lacking.
Yes, fans often have difficulty with a film director who takes so many liberties, but most of us have come to trust Jackson with his depiction of Middle Earth by now.
The official synopsis for the two-part film is thus:
The Hobbit follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.
Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum.
Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities... A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theaters Dec 14 , 2012. The follow up film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, follows on Dec 13, 2013.