The story started with an April Fools Day article, which was a fabricated press release announcing Stuart Townsend's involvement as Bard, an archer from the town of Dale.
Stuart Townsend had originally been cast as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring before dropping out.
That April Fools Day story also indicated that Saoirse Ronan was locked to play Itaril, a role she has been speculated to play for some time now, although it has never been confirmed.
The Hobbit is currently in production in New Zealand.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released December 14th, 2012 and stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter. The film is directed by Peter Jackson.