Cate Blanchett joins The Hobbit cast

Cate Blanchett Cate Blanchett was presented with an Academy Award for her role in The Aviator

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Oscar-winning-actress Cate Blanchett will reprise her Lord Of The Rings role of Galadriel for the trilogy's prequel The Hobbit, it has been confirmed.

Director Peter Jackson said he was "thrilled" she had signed up as she is one of his "favourite actors to work with".

Jackson, who directed all three Lord of the Rings films is making two movies based on the novel by JRR Tolkien.

The Office star Martin Freeman will play the key role of Bilbo Baggins.

Scottish actors Ken Stott and Sylvester McCoy have also been cast in the films.

Blanchett, who won her Oscar for the 2004 film The Aviator, will portray Elven leader Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien.

"Cate is one of my favourite actors to work with, and I couldn't be more thrilled to have her reprise the role she so beautifully brought to life in the earlier films," Jackson said in a statement.

Shooting will begin in New Zealand in February, although Warner Bros and New Line had considered taking the production elsewhere after acting unions threatened to boycott the films in a row over wages.

The first instalment of The Hobbit is expected to be released in December 2012, with the second following a year later.

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