It's Official: Ian McKellen to Return as Gandalf in 'The Hobbit'

<p> LONDON - FEBRUARY 26:&nbsp; Sir Ian McKellen poses for photos before reading from &#39;The Letters of Samuel Beckett&#39;, and discussing their roles in a production of Waiting for Godot opening at The Theatre Royal Haymarket (on April 30th 2009) at Foyles Bookshop on 26 February, 2009 in London, England.</p>   |   Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Ian McKellen has signed on to return as wizard Gandalf in The Hobbit, the two-pic adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel being directed by Peter Jackson.

The dealmaking on Hobbit for a slew of Jackson veterans from his Lord of the Rings trilogy has been coming fast and furious and comes on the heels of  Andy Serkis finally inking his deal to reprise Gollum.

The Hobbit book introduced Gandalf and Gollum, with both characters going on to become part of literature’s most popular characters. Gandalf sets the adventure going in the story and appears throughout the novel. Gollum appears in a chapter that has gone on to be one of the most memorable in all of fantasy literature.

Elijah Wood signed his deal to return as Frodo last week, and Cate Blanchett will play Galadriel once again. Orlando Bloom has an offer to return as elf archer Legolas, though it’s too early to tell if a deal will be made.

McKellen, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Gandalf, has spent recent years doing mostly voice work for film and TV, although he did star in the remake of AMC's The Prisoner. His last major film role was in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.

Hobbit starts shooting Feb. 14 in New Zealand.