The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Billy Connolly is being cast as Dáin.
And we all rejoice! I had been concerned they might be reworking the plot to de-value Dáin’s role, or write it out completely, but I was obviously worried for nothing. Peter Jackson had this to say about the casting:
“We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dáin Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of Dwarves, than Billy Connolly, the Big Yin himself,” Jackson said in a statement to THR. “With Billy stepping into this role, the cast of The Hobbit is now complete. We can’t wait to see him on the Battlefield!”
I think the character could be played any number of ways and be very effective. We have almost no reference in the book as to his personality, but his actions speak loudly. Dáin is a key figure in the Battle of Five Armies (though in The Hobbit, we hear about him much more than actually see him!) He is also an important factor in the War of the Ring (yet again we only hear about his epic fate, as told by Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings Appendices), not to mention all the stuff he does at the Battle of Azanulbizar (again, awesome action, relegated to the Appendices!)
He is one of those characters that is the ideal of the race, and probably fares well for being on the outskirts of the story (since familiarity only breeds contempt). We know he’s a supreme badass (yes I know, all the dwarves are tough, but Dáin was fearlessly slaying orcs at a very young age, and continued to do so until he was old and grey!) Not only that, he’s actually very level-headed (for a dwarf) and capable of great generosity. And while the trait is basically standard issue for all dwarves, he is flawlessly loyal, but not only to his race, but to the Men of Dale and their descendants (with whom he became allies during the Battle of Five Armies). In short, he’s the sort who gives dwarves a good name. For a concise history of Dáin, check out the The Tolkien Gateway.