After 266 days of shooting and months of editing, the first installment of director Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" is finally set to hit theaters Friday.

Like his previous adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which take place 60 years after the events of "The Hobbit," Jackson has spared no detail in telling the classic tale of Bilbo Baggins, an ordinary hobbit asked to go on an extraordinary journey. In addition to painstakingly recreating almost all the iconic characters and scenes from Tolkien's tome, Jackson has also filled the film -- and its two forthcoming sequels, set for 2013 and 2014 releases -- with details from Tolkien's later writings about Middle Earth, including "The Silmarillion," "Unfinished Tales" and appendices to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

The wide cast of characters centers around a group of 13 dwarves, who recruit Bilbo to join their quest to reclaim their lost kingdom and treasure. In a video diary released during production of the film, Jackson joked that the prospect of dealing with such a large band of characters was "one of the reasons why I dreaded (adapting) 'The Hobbit,'" but he eventually overcame that trepidation, and said bringing the dwarves to life "turned out to be one of the joys of the film."

To help moviegoers keep all those dwarves straight -- and introduce the rest of the sprawling cast -- we've assembled a guide to the major characters in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Poster
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) lives a simple life with his fellow hobbits in the shire, until the wizard... Read More

categories Movies