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Billy Connolly joins ‘The Hobbit’ cast

Actor will play dwarf warrior Dain Ironfoot

Billy Connolly is joining the cast of Peter Jackson’s two “Hobbit” films as Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior.

Jackson made the announcement Wednesday — 10 months before the first pic hits theaters.

“We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dain Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of Dwarves, than Billy Connelly, the Big Yin himself,” Jackson said in a statment. “With Billy stepping into this role, the cast of “The Hobbit” is now complete. We can’t wait to see him on the Battlefield!”

The Scotsman’s best known as a comedian. His film credits include “The Last Samurai” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Jackson shot the first segments of the back-to-back pics in March. After shooting began, he cast Stephen Fry to play the role of Master of Laketown and Orlando Bloom to reprise his role as Legolas in “The Hobbit,” joinging 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.

The 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 Smaug.

The screenplays are penned by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Jackson is also producing the films, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham; exec producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, Boyens serving as co-producer.

New Line parent Warner Bros. reached a deal a year ago 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: An Unexpected Journey” will be released Dec. 14. The second film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” is slated for release on Dec. 13, 2013.

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