New Zealand actor Dean O’Gorman has replaced Rob Kazinsky in “The Hobbit” in the role of Fili.

Producer-director Peter Jackson made the announcement Saturday on his Facebook page, noting that O’Gorman has been starring in the local TV series “The Almighty Johnsons.” “And I should let fans of that show know that our shooting schedule allows Dean to continue with a second series next year,” he added.

Kazinsky ankled from the production a week ago for personal reasons.

Jackson also announced that Lee Pace will be playing the Elven King Thranduil. “Casting these Tolkien stories is very difficult, especially the Elven characters, and Lee has always been our first choice for Thranduil,” he added. “He’s going to be great. We loved his performance in a movie called “The Fall” a few years ago, and have been hoping to work with him since.”

Jackson began shooting the two films in New Zealand in 3D in mid-March. “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 is 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.