New Hobbit Picture Online

Bilbo gets Mirk'ed

It's safe to say that 2011 is going out with a bang. But amid the latest Gotham goings-on, and with Ridley Scott reporting in from the less audible corners of space, it's easy to forget that somewhere in Middle-earth, Bilbo Baggins and his crew of footsore dwarves are Mirkwood-bound on an epic quest to find treasure and slay some serious cave troll in The Hobbit.Well, call us over-caffeinated Tolkien fanboys hyped up on pipe-weed and Christmas spirit, but we couldn't be more fired up about this one if we lived in Smaug's larynx. In fact, we're so excited that we sent our top man to Wellywood, New Zealand, to get the latest from the set of Peter Jackson's new Tolkien two-parter.

"The first thing I filmed was finding the ring in Gollum's cave," Martin Freeman told us nonchalantly, giving an insight into his approach to hobbiting. "It's good to know, but not play, the importance of the Ring," he explained. "I'm trying to put a bit more heaviness into it. It's not all comical."

Get hold of the new issue of Empire for more from the set. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out on December 14.