The buzz about Sylvester McCoy, veteran of British television (including a stint playing the Doctor), lately has been that he is in talks to play a certain part in The Hobbit, though definitely “not the Bilbo role.” (In other interesting facts: he also once played the part of the Fool in King Lear, against, yes, Ian McKellen as the titular monarch.)
Bleeding Cool, however, has a “trustworthy source” that has pegged his negotiations as revolving around a much more obscure character: Radagast the Brown.
Why do we care about negotiations for a bit part in The Hobbit? Because we’re obssesed? Well, yes. Of course. But also because Radagast doesn’t actually appear in The Hobbit, but if he does, it gives us a big hint on one of the movies’ big spectacles.
This is one of those prime examples of how Tolkien was an incredible historian and linguist but perhaps a bad novelist.
See, right about the middle of The Hobbit, Gandalf leaves Bilbo and Co. in the lurch, to go off and do some super secret and serious wizard business. We never learn what it was, just that it was important. Here’s what actually happened, while Bilbo and the dwarfs were falling asleep and getting lost in the incredibly boring Mirkwood, as Tolkein would later reveal in The Silmarillion and various appendices:
Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, two other wizards, Galadriel, Elrond, and Círdan the Shipwright (the third great leader of the elves) traveled to southern Mirkwood and, just the eight of them, threw Sauron out of the place.
Yes. In The Hobbit, eight of the most powerful individuals in Middle Earth got together like a super hero team and trounced the (weaker, but still scary) Big Bad of The Lord of the Rings.
I love J.R.R. Tolkein, but I think its safe to say that this sure-to-have-been epic battle never would have been left to the invisible background of a book by pretty much any other author. Then again, he may not even have realized why Gandalf was leaving when he wrote The Hobbit. He didn’t know who Aragorn was when he decided to put a man named Strider in The Prancing Pony. I’m honestly not sure if it’s a credit or defect of his style.
But I digress. The casting of Radagast the Brown means we might actually get to see the White Council’s assault on Dol Guldur in the movie.
It’s a good thing there are only two wizards left and they may or may not even have names, because we might run out of incredibly versatile Shakespearean-trained male British actors to play them.
Patrick Stewart might be available though.