"Flight of the Conchords" star Bret McKenzie will play Lindir, an Elf of Rivendell

EXCLUSIVE:Flight of the Conchords” star Bret McKenzie has joined the cast of “The Hobbit,” which began shooting March 21.

New Zealand-based McKenzie made brief appearances as an extra in the first and third “Lord of the Rings” pics in which he achieved fan fame on the Internet with the fan-created nickname “Figwit.” He’s playing Lindir, an Elf of Rivendell, in “The Hobbit.”

McKenzie and fellow New Zealander Jermaine Clement formed the comedy-music duo Flight of the Conchords in 1998, leading to a BBC radio series and an HBO series.

Producer-director Peter Jackson is shooting the two films in New Zealand in 3D over the next 14 months at Stone Street Studios in Wellington and on location around the country. “Hobbit” cast includes Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkien novel’s set 60 years before “Lord of the Rings” with Bilbo the unassuming Hobbit who becomes a hero by obtaining a powerful ring in the face of challenges by the wicked Gollum and a dragon named Smaug.

New Line parent Warner Bros. reached a deal in January to handle worldwide distribution on “The Hobbit,” taking over most international distribution and homevideo on the two films from MGM in exchange for funding MGM’s half of the production costs. The “Hobbit” pics are aimed for release in late 2012 and late 2013.

Jackson, Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham are producing, with co-writer Philippa Boyens serving as co-producer and Ken Kamins and Zane Weiner as exec producers. Walsh, Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Jackson penned the screenplays.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more