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It's been confirmed that 'Sherlock' star Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing dual roles in Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', and 'The Hobbit: There and Back Again'. Cumberbatch, who was already voicing the character of The Necromancer, has been chosen to also play the role of the powerful and greedy dragon Smaug. The same methods used for Andy Serkis' portrayal of Gollum will be used to capture movement and facial expressions from the actor, which will then be mapped onto a digital model.
In addition to playing the main villain, it is presumed that Cumberbatch's role as The Necromancer (the disembodied spirit of the defeated Sauron) will be fully expanded upon in the two films and that we will get to see more of the "important business" that Gandalf had to attend to during 'The Hobbit' (in which he tries to convince the White Council to attack Dol Guldur and drive Sauron's spirit from Mirkwood).
Star of the upcoming film 'The Three Musketeers', Luke Evans has also joined the cast as Bard the Grim - skilled archer and heir of King Girion of Dale (who was killed by Smaug). The production in New Zealand is currently underway and with these latest additions the major casting for the film is now complete.