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'The Hobbit': Who should play Bilbo Baggins?

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Hobbit-Bilbo-Radcliffe_l Casting rumors for The Hobbit — oh my! There has been next to no news about Guillermo del Toro’s massive two-film project of late, so I will take whatever I can get, even if it’s just a rumor. According to the Los Angeles Times, word on the geek street is that the actor portraying Bilbo Baggins may be announced at Comic-Con next week, and three names are in the air (pictured, from left to right): James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, and David Tennant. Let’s take a closer look at these choices.

Tennant, 38, is a Scottish actor best known for starring as The Doctor in the current incarnation of the BBC show Doctor Who. McAvoy, 30, is also Scottish and has displayed impressive range by tackling everything from Mr. Tumnus, the gentle faun in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, to the ultraviolent assassin Wesley Gibson in last year’s Wanted. And 19-year-old Radcliffe — well, you know him.

These are all surprisingly young choices for a character that’s supposed to be 50 years old. (Although that’s in hobbit years. So maybe 50 is the equivalent of 30 in human years? Any Tolkien experts want to clarify?) Tennant has an advantage in being the oldest of the three candidates, but he’s also the tallest at 6’1″. Obviously, trick photography and digital manipulation could shrink his stature to hobbit size, but Del Toro may save himself a lot of grief by simply choosing a shorter star. Radcliffe is listed as 5’6″ — having met the actor, that may even be an inch too generous — so he’s closer to the right height. But although Radcliffe turns 20 later this July, he’s still too young in my mind. More problematic is the concern that many moviegoers won’t be able to shake off the idea that Radcliffe is, and always will be, Harry Potter.

That leaves us with McAvoy, who’s 5’7″, older than Radcliffe, and a splendid actor to boot (he deserved an Oscar nomination for holding his own against Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland). But what do you think, PopWatchers? Put on your casting hats and tell us who should be selected for the role of Bilbo Baggins:

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