But let me first say, that I have no "inside" information whatsoever - these names are just my own little musings. Fun suggestions for whoever gets to cast THE HOBBIT (my hope is still GDT....unless he gets offered ATMOM by Universal Studios).
So let's start, shall we:
You have to mention him as a possible candidate, just because he played Bilbo Baggins in LOTR. The problem is that he is getting up in years (76) and it would take a lot of energy to run around on Bilbo's adventure. Plus, I'm sure the studio would lean towards a younger, up-and-coming actor.
Ok, I'm probably jumping on the bandwagon for this one, but I have to admit he would be a good choice. Best known as Tim from THE (British) OFFICE, but also for playing Arthur Dent in THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. As Arthur Dent, he had the comedic "fish out of water" part nailed, which is what at least the first half of THE HOBBIT requires from Bilbo.
And here's the name that's going to throw you off guard, but I can't help thinking it might work:
I'm going out on a limb here, but here me out. Ok, so he's not British. But he's a classically trained actor - surely he could pull of a British accent. And he's kind of got that "Hobbit look". Slap on some curly hair, some furry feat, a long pipe and Whammo - instant resident of the shire. But here's two reasons why I think he would be ideal: 1) He always plays the sidekick. And that's what Bilbo is - he's a sidekick that becomes the hero, and 2) He's just so damn likeable.
So there you have it - Zahn is my number one. GDT, if you get the job, pick up the phone and give Steve a call. He's probably fishing at his farm in Kentucky right now, just like a good hobbit should.