Jackson, Wood liken "Hobbit" filming to family reunion

PARK CITY, UTAH Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:08am EST

Peter Jackson poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Peter Jackson poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

PARK CITY, UTAH (Reuters) - Filming "The Hobbit" has seemed like a family get together of sorts for director Peter Jackson and at least one of his "Lord of the Rings" stars, Elijah Wood.

"I'm enjoying it much more than I ever thought I would and it literally does feel like a family reunion, which is a nice way to go to work each day," Jackson told Reuters at the Sundance film festival on the red carpet to promote his documentary film, "West of Memphis."

Wood, also at Sundance but for a separate film in which he stars, "Celeste and Jesse Forever," told Reuters that the "Hobbit" shoot was "pretty extraordinary."

"It was very surreal," Wood said. "It kind of felt like no time had passed and suddenly we were back working again. It kind of felt like stepping back into time, family reunion. It was so great."

"The Hobbit," based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, is a two-part prequel to Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which saw Wood in the starring role of Frodo Baggins. The movies became among the biggest blockbusters ever, and the final film, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," won 11 Oscars including best film and best director for Jackson.

"Hobbit" audiences will see many of the same faces reprising their characters from the "Rings" films, including Wood, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel.

Wood said his part is "really small" and joked that when he finished shooting his scenes, he wished didn't have to leave. "I was telling Andy Serkis, who's (also) directing second unit, that I wanted to stow away on (his) unit and keep working," said Wood.

Newcomers to the 'Hobbit' cast include Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly and Lee Pace also are among the cast. The story follows Bilbo on an epic quest with 13 dwarves and the

warrior Thorin to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Part one, "An Unexpected Journey," is scheduled for a December 2012 release while part two, "There and Back Again," will land in movie theaters one year later.

(Reporting By Lindsay Claiborn and Zorianna Kit; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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