The Hobbit parts I, II and – presumably – III, are filled with familiar characters, and some who never appeared in the novel. They are played by performers both obscure and well-known. But there’s another cast of characters who are really running things down in The Shire. They do not, as far as we know, have hairy feet.

Peter Jackson (pic): A hero to his native New Zealand for bringing in so much filmmaking, and so many Oscars, the director likes to do things to excess – such as making a three-part cinematic landmark out of a three-part literary epic (The Lord Of The Rings) or squeezing three 2-hour, 40-minute features out of a tiny Tolkien novel. But he is also one of the more ambitious filmmakers on the planet, and one with a bit of a twist. Ever see Meet the Feebles? “Amused and nauseated” was how it left one critic.

Guillermo del Toro: The great creature-creator of contemporary cinema, del Toro was supposed to direct The Hobbit, but his take on the fantastical – that it should erupt out of reality – apparently clashed with Jackson’s wholesale dreamscape approach to the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. Del Toro is, however, credited as a co-screenwriter on all three Hobbits and is currently at work on The Incredible Hulk TV series.

Fran Walsh: The publicity-shy writer-producer has been scripting Jackson’s movies since the beginning, including the screenplay for his breakout Heavenly Creatures (for which she and Jackson got an Oscar nomination). Married to Jackson since 1987 and mother of his two children, Walsh also co-produced with her husband the documentary West Of Memphis, about the wrongly accused Memphis Three, and helped finance their defence.

Philippa Boyens: Another New Zealander, Boyens had reportedly read The Lord Of The Rings seven times when she came aboard to co-write the film versions. She co-wrote and coproduced the Hobbit films, the acclaimed District 9 and Jackson’s version of King Kong. She also helped write and produce Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones. – Newsday/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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