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Casting Net: Tom Hiddleston boards J.G. Ballard adaptation; Plus, Evangeline Lilly for 'Ant-Man'?

• Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World) is attached to star in High-Rise, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s 1975 novel about a luxury residential unit. Hiddleston would play Robert Laing, a doctor who loves the idea of the tower, becomes obsessed with the architect, and gets embroiled in the complex mess surrounding the building. In the book, the building isolates the residents from the outside world and societal niceties soon devolve as residents segregate themselves by class and eventually regress to a primitive hunter/gatherer culture. Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who) is set to direct. [Variety]

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'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug': Will the Elves join the fight? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug roars into theaters on Dec. 13, fans of Tolkien’s Middle-earth books and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies will revel in its magnificent visual delights, the return of their favorite characters, and a first real glimpse at a most lethal dragon. As if that’s not enough to hold your attention, Jackson made his own contribution to the Tolkien universe by introducing a whole new Elven character, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and pairing her with Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the Elven member of the Fellowship of the Ring. “Legolas isn’t discussed in The Hobbit, but as far as Tolkien is concerned, he would have been part of that structure within the Woodland Realm,” Jackson told EW last month. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”

Purists may sniff, but co-writer Philippa Boyens calls Tauriel — a fierce, no-nonsense warrior who understands the danger of the growing evil in Middle-earth before her king does –“a breath of fresh air in many ways.” In the exclusive clip below, she sets out to take on 30 orcs single-handledly. Fortunately, another hero isn’t far behind. READ FULL STORY

'The Hobbit': Evangeline Lilly's elven warrior Tauriel is ... Batman? -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Don’t mess with Tauriel, man. Before yesterday’s global fan event for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, series newcomer Evangeline Lilly asked the audience in a Los Angeles theater whether there were any haters present. Her elven warrior is a new creation for the Peter Jackson film, and one of just two major female characters (Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel is the other.)

Some purist fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel have expressed objections to such revisionism, so a few bold hands went up in the theater.

Lilly, a lifelong fan of Tolkien’s books herself, vowed to change their minds.

By the end it was clear she loved the world of Middle-earth as much as anyone. She even corrected Jackson’s pronunciation of the dragon Smaug, whom he kept calling “Schmowwg.”

After the presentation, Lilly stuck around for this extended Q&A with the moderator (me) and some of the audience members. By the end, the former Lost actress revealed some of the surprising backstory for Tauriel that might earn the benefit of the doubt from some die-hards.

As you’ll see, Tauriel’s origin story made me think immediately of a certain shadowy DC Comics hero.
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'The Hobbit' fan event: Meet Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, director Peter Jackson, and more

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Those poor elves in Middle-earth are finally getting a decent Wi-Fi connection.

They’ll need it for Nov. 4, when fans can meet and greet director Peter Jackson and the cast of the second film in the Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, via satellite-linked cinemas all over the world. Hobbit stars will be scattered throughout movie theaters in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Wellington, New Zealand. Each theater will be connected by satellite, so audiences in each theater can participate in a simultaneous Q&A and get a first look at extended footage from the film.

Your Middle-earth guide? CNN anchor Anderson Cooper will host the entire event from New York, joined by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield) and Orlando Bloom (Legolas). Evangeline Lilly, who joins the cast as Elf warrior, Tauriel, will log on from Los Angeles. London will host other cast additions Lee Pace (who plays Elf King Thranduil), Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman) and Andy Serkis, who previously played Gollum. Director Peter Jackson will join from Wellington. Other select theaters around the world will also allow fans to watch the event.

Can’t make the trek to a Hobbit host city? Watch from your computer screen, as it will also be streamed online.

For more details on participating theaters and how to sign up, check out the official movie website, The Hobbit Facebook page, and official Twitter under hashtag #hobbitfanevent.

The fan event will take place Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. ET. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives in theaters Dec. 13.

Comic-Con: Evangeline Lilly on entering the 'Hobbit' world as a Tolkien fan -- VIDEO

Evangeline Lilly is no stranger to Comic-Con. Lost, which gave Lilly her breakout role, ventured to San Diego even before it debuted in 2004. And now she’s a certified member of the J. R. R. Tolkien universe, as Tauriel in the upcoming The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

This year, however, the actress is promoting her new children’s book, The Squickerwonkers, with an assist from Weta Workshop illustrator Johnny Fraser-Allen, who worked on special effects for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. So that gives us license to squeeze in a few Hobbit questions, right?

Below, EW’s Keith Staskiewicz talked to the actress about what it means for her to be a huge Tolkien fan getting to take a trip to Middle-earth.
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