The murky soap opera that is Peter Jackson's development of The Hobbit just got slightly less cloudy with the confirmation from Ros Hubbard, the casting director, that Saoirse Ronan has been cast in an unspecified role, though rumors have it that she will be playing Itaril. Ronan was hopeful for the part as little as two weeks ago, intimating that she would a role if she was offered one, but, at that point, the producers had shown her no love.

The lovelessness was short-lived, however. With Ronan's recent pedigree and looks, it's hard to rule her out of any casting decisions, even if those decisions involve little people kickin' it in Middle Earth. Ronan has garnered buzz for her starring role in Hanna in which she is compelled to assassinate her own father, played by Eric Bana. That role follows well-received turns in both Atonement and The Lovely Bones, which indicate that she might want to go with a comedy next time out to prove she has the whole package. I hear Rob Schneider's been wanting to work with her for ages. (/Film)