Peter Jackson promised to keep Christopher Lee in The Hobbit

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The first of three films based on an adaptation of the 1937 novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It will star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Several actors from The Lord of the Rings will reprise their roles, including Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood & Orlando Bloom. Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug.

December 29th, 2012

Sir Peter Jackson promised not to cut Sir Christopher Lee out of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'.

The filmmaker scrapped the actor's role as evil White Council wizard Saruman in the final 'Lord of the Rings' film, 'The Return Of The King', and had to promise a distraught Christopher he would never be axed in any of the three prequels.

Peter said: ''I'm very, very pleased that he's in this film. He was very upset to be cut out of the theatrical version of 'Return Of The King', but he is in the extended cut.

''It was great that we brought the White Council into the story of 'The Hobbit' - they're not there in the novel - but Tolkien wrote a lot of additional material as he was intending to expand 'The Hobbit' post the 'Lord Of The Rings' to make the two stories tie in ,but he never wrote that book. So there's a lot of the notes that are in 'The Return Of The King'.

Saruman has a pivotal role in 'The Two Towers' after turning against his former white council allies Galadriel, Gandalf and Elrond and becomes the driving evil force of the film, but after his defeat his more minimal role had to be cut out of the lengthy third opus.

Peter joked that Christopher had refused to attend any of the world premieres this time around if he was going to be shunned once again.

He told BANG Showbiz: ''I did talk to Christopher the other day about coming to the premiere and he did say, 'Am I still in the movie?! And this time around I could say yes!''