'The Hobbit' Producer Peter Jackson Says Bilbo Casting 'A Month Or Two Away,' Tobey Maguire Isn't On Board

In mid-December, a rumor surfaced that (now ex-)"Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire would play Bilbo Baggins in the coming, Guillermo del Toro-directed adaptation of "The Hobbit." It seemed like a preposterous idea on multiple levels, but the source -- Latino Review -- has a better track record than most of the rumor-mongers out there.

Over the weekend it came out that the rumor was, in fact, just that. Producer Peter Jackson shot off a message to Ain't It Cool News saying that, while he and del Toro are fans of Maguire, it's just not true. The "Hobbit" team is "currently auditioning for Bilbo" he said, and they're "a month or two away from any announcements." Del Toro wrote in as well, with a simple, one-sentence statement: "It's not true."

I think the real takeaway here is Jackson's confirmation that we're a month or two away from hearing who will play Bilbo Baggins, finder of the One Ring. It's no surprise really, given that casting notices started going out in early January, but reading character descriptions on a website and hearing straight from the producer that announcements will soon be forthcoming are very different things.

The death of "Spider-Man" -- Sam Raimi's and Tobey Maguire's Spidey, that is -- adds a new wrinkle the "Hobbit" development. Jackson doesn't ever say that Maguire isn't in the running, only that there's no truth to the rumor. If he and del Toro really are fans of the actor, he's certainly someone they could look to for the role now that his schedule is a bit more free. And while I personally don't think he would be a good fit for the role, I'm not the guy who successfully adapted the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy into a series of widely successful, Oscar-winning films.

We'll just have to wait and see. Maguire being cast may now be more of a possibility than it was before, but I still wouldn't bet on it.

Do you think Maguire would be a good fit for the role of Bilbo Baggins? Do you think Jackson and del Toro should go with a familiar face at all, or should they go for a newcomer instead?