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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

Orlando Bloom on the return of Legolas in 'The Hobbit' and how elves make love

If you were a bit befuddled to see Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings fan favorite Legolas pop up in trailers for the upcoming Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug — given that the elf warrior doesn’t appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book — well, you’re not the only one.

Speaking to EW for this week’s cover story on Smaug, Bloom says he was surprised when director Peter Jackson asked him to come onboard the Hobbit trilogy. Nevertheless, Bloom says he happily signed on even before he’d seen a script. “If Pete said, ‘Jump,’ I’d say, ‘How high?’ based on my previous experiences with him and my gratitude toward him for giving me my start in life, as it were,” says the actor, who was all but unknown when Jackson cast him in in the Rings trilogy.

Tolkien purists may wring their hands over the Hobbit films’ deviations from the strict canon, but Jackson argues that bringing Legolas into The Hobbit makes perfect sense both narratively and in terms of Tolkien-ology. As Tolkien later established in the Rings books, Legolas is the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, who is in the Hobbit novel, and since elves are immortal, it stands to reason that he would have been around when Bilbo and the dwarves went tramping through the wood-elves’ territory. “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 says. “And we needed characters within the Woodland Realm to drive the story.”
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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.

'Zulu', starring Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker, to close Cannes

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Zulu, a suspenseful political thriller that stars Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker as South African police officers, will close the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 26. Based on the award-winning novel by Caryl Férey and directed by Jérome Salle, the movie digs deep into the urban underbelly of post-apartheid South Africa when a girl is brutally mutilated.

Cannes begins on May 15, with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby scheduled to open the festival. Steven Spielberg will preside over this year’s jury.

Read More:
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First look at Orlando Bloom in 'The Hobbit: There and Back Again' -- EXCLUSIVE

When the second and third installments of the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug (out Dec. 13, 2013) and There and Back Again (out July 18, 2014), arrive in theaters, we’ll encounter some familiar faces as well as some new ones as Bilbo and the dwarves continue their perilous journey to the Lonely Mountain, home of the dragon Smaug. One familiar face will be Orlando Bloom’s elf Legolas (pictured here in a shot from There and Back Again – click to enlarge), a major character in the Rings trilogy but one not mentioned in the Hobbit book.

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'The Hobbit' behind-the-scenes diary: Comic-Con! Goblin-town! Yak hair! Legolas! -- VIDEO

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Fun fact! Over the 18 months of principal photography on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the production went through an estimated 450 miles of yak hair.

That’s but one of the many oddly illuminating details tucked inside director Peter Jackson’s latest video production diary from the New Zealand set. Though it mostly chronicles the final days of shooting, the video starts with a charming prologue at San Diego Comic-Con, capturing the whirlwind of interviews and signings for The Hobbit folk like Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, and Andy Serkis before their massive panel in Hall HREAD FULL STORY

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