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We'll all have to wait until Dec. 14, 2012, for the full fruits of director Peter Jackson's labors on his two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit. But, to tide us over, Jackson has shared the first images from his Lord of the Rings prequels with EW — and talked to us about how the fantasy epic is shaping up so far. (For the full story, pick up the issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands June 24.)
MARTIN FREEMAN (BILBO BAGGINS)
''He fits the ears, and he's got some very nice feet,'' Jackson says of his Bilbo. ''I think he's got the biggest hobbit feet we've had so far. They're a little bit hard to walk in, but he's managed to figure out the perfect hobbit gait.''
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IAN MCKELLEN (GANDALF)
''He's in fantastic form,'' Peter Jackson says of McKellen. ''In a way, his role in The Hobbit has more technical difficulties than Lord of the Rings did, because he has scenes with 14 smaller characters — obviously the dwarves and the hobbit are shorter... I remember saying to him [laughs], ''Look, this isn't Waiting for Godot or King Lear. This is The Hobbit. This is the real thing.''
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PETER JACKSON WITH MARTIN FREEMAN
''There's no way you can pace yourself for shoots like these,'' Jackson says. ''When we were going through the schedule for The Hobbit, I felt a terrible drop in my stomach when I saw that we'd be shooting for 254 days. We're only 12 days short of The Lord of the Rings even though we're only doing two movies. When I saw that, I had to sort of pick myself up off the floor and carry on.''