'The Hobbit': Martin Freeman As Bilbo Baggins In New Still Photo

Bilbo Baggins is all in.

Warner Bros. has released a new photo still from "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the wildly anticipated first prequel to Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Picking up nine years after the original film series' final film, "The Return of the King," this one features UK "Office" and "Sherlock" star Martin Freeman as the brave hobbit who travels to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the evil monster Smaug.

The film has a long production legacy, fraught with lawsuits and directorial stops and starts. Once it got underway, it provided a massively expensive venture requiring a whole army of production workers to help bring the epic quest to life. Judging by the reactions to the first trailer, the expenditure will prove a wise one.

Along with Freeman, the film stars Richard Armitage as Dwarf warrior leader Thorin Oakenshield and, just as in the first trilogy, Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey. Andy Serkis returns as Gollum. Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, and Cate Blanchett return in small parts to reprise their roles as Legolas, Frodo, and Galadriel, respectively. Evangeline Lilly will play Tauriel, while Luke Evans is on board as Bard.

PHOTO (via LA Times):