Reports surfaced last month that Martin Freeman (The Office, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) had to decline an offer to play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit movies due to a scheduling conflict with the second season of the BBC series Sherlock, in which he plays Dr. Watson. However this was followed by reports saying MGM and New Line “have since come back to Freeman with a proposed schedule that would allow him to shoot both projects.”
Freeman today confirmed that he did indeed have to turn The Hobbit down, but it would be “great” is something could be worked out.
‘They are as yet rumours, but stranger things have happened,’ Freeman told Empire, “I did have to say no to it for the second series of Sherlock,” he says, “But if something could be worked out, that would be great.” But it must have been tough having to turn down such a plum part? “Oh yeah, I did it with a heavy heart, definitely.”
But with The Hobbit’s starting date still up in the air, it seems there may still be room for manoeuvre. “I’d like to think so. If there is any outside possibility, then that would be great. But I’ve learned not to think too much or hope too much about stuff. It will happen if it happens.”
“I wasn’t a fan of it as a kid but I did like the films,” he said. “I think Ian [McKellen] is very good, and [director Peter] Jackson’s a clever man. I thought what he did with them was interesting and entertaining.”
Freeman also agreed that it would be refreshing to see Bilbo played by a slightly older actor, rather than someone fresh out of drama school (he’s 39). “Absolutely, because Bilbo isn’t 20 at this stage of the story,’ he said, ‘and I reckon I could do a young Ian Holm. I think I could give that a go.”
I am 100% behind Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, but I can see why he turned it down. The Hobbit is still unstable at the moment so it is wiser for him to keep his Sherlock role rather than to leave and be out of work for months until The Hobbit eventually gets going. Hopefully they can work the scheduling out so that he can do both.