Casting on The Hobbit is really beginning to gain momentum now as Deadline reports that Andy Serkis has signed on the dotted line to reprise his role of Gollum.

But Serkis isn’t the only original member to return. He’ll be joining Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood, and Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, whose return to Middle Earth has long been expected and is now confirmed.

Christopher Lee is in talks to return, and even Ian Holm has been mentioned as making a brief appearance as the older Bilbo Baggins (although Martin Freeman is playing the younger incarnation in the two new movies).

Following the resolution of MGM’s long-running financial uncertainty (the studio is partnered up with Warner Bros for the films) Peter Jackson must be extremely eager to crack the casting process and get on with bringing his vision of that world to the screen again. Surrounding himself with past collaborators must be advantageous in helping him realise this.