"Evangeline Lilly will be playing a new character—the Woodland Elf, Tauriel," director Peter Jackson announced on Facebook. "Her name means 'daughter of Mirkwood' and, beyond that, we must leave you guessing! (No, there is no romantic connection to Legolas.) What is not a secret is how talented and compelling an actress Evangeline is; we are thrilled and excited she will be the one to bring our first true Sylvan Elf to life."
Jackson also announced the casting of Barry Humphries, who will play the Goblin King. He joins Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis who are all reprising their Lord of the Rings characters for the prequel.
The first of the two films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is slated to hit theaters Dec. 14, 2012. The second installment, being filmed back to back with the first, titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again is due out Dec. 13, 2013.