Former Office star Martin Freeman will play hero Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit films, it has been confirmed.

Amid disputes over where the film will be shot, Oscar winner Sir Peter Jackson and the executives behind the films announced the cast for the anticipated two-picture tale.

Martin will play Baggins while Spooks star Richard Armitage will portray Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the Company of Dwarves. Ex EastEnders star Rob Kazinsky has also won a role.

Sir Peter said in a statement on Thursday that Martin is ‘exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit’.

He called Richard ‘one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today’.

Other actors joining the ensemble cast are Aidan Turner, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton.

The Hobbit, based on the J R R Tolkien novel, began production in New Zealand earlier this month, despite union disputes which were reported to have led Sir Peter to consider moving the film away from New Zealand.

The films are set for release in December of 2012 and December of 2013.