Bard and Smaug Casting Announced... and the Necromancer
Luke Evans as Bard of Dale
While a small role, Bard will certainly be a significant role--you know what I mean if you've read the book :)--I certainly expect Peter Jackson to amp up the character in the movies. In fact, will almost certainly demand more development than what we get in the books... Luke Evans recently appeared in a supporting role in Clash of the Titans. Check out his IMDB page for all his previous work.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug... and the Necromancer?
It sounds like Cumberbatch is being cast in the same vein of expectations that Andy Serkis was cast for Gollum--he'll be doing motion capture as he's also doing the voice for Smaug. I really like the idea that the actor is imbued into the digital character using motion capture--even if the character is a dragon, and nowhere near to being human.
Hopefully we'll hear some official word from Peter Jackson's facebook page real soon!