Irish actor Michael Fassbender has been tipped to star in “The Hobbit” which is due to start filming next February. The Irishman is reportedly on the producers wish list for the upcoming production. “The Inglorious Bastards” star was raised in Killarney, Co. Kerry but is now based in LA.

Other actors in the running for major roles include Cold Feet star James Nesbitt and former Doctor Who star David Tennant. Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are expected to return to play the roles of Gandalf and Gollum.

A spokesman for New Line cinema said that "nothing is finalised", but added that an announcement was expected shortly.

The Hobbit follows the journey of the Bilbo Baggins from the Shire in his search for treasure guarded by a dragon named Smaug. It tells the story of the discovery of the ring which Baggins later passes on to his adopted son Frodo.

Film production for the JRR Tolkien classic ran into financial difficulty last year and had to be suspended due to union issues in New Zealand where they blockbuster is being filmed.