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Martin Freeman Talks The Hobbit
Exclusive: Actor could still be Bilbo

11 October 2010  |  Written by Olly Grant  

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Middle Earth fans, hold on to your oakenshields. Martin Freeman has been linked with the role of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit for ages now, but he's said precious little about the tenacious rumours. You know what the next bit is: until now.

‘They are as yet rumours, but stranger things have happened,’ Freeman told Empire, while promoting his BBC Radio 3 play, an adaptation of B. S. Johnson’s novel The Unfortunates.

Speaking of unfortunates, Freeman confirmed what many have suspected for weeks – that he was lined up for the role, but had to turn it down. "I did have to say no to it for the second series of Sherlock," he says of the BBC 1 show in which he plays Dr. Watson. "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."

Though Freeman wasn’t immersed in The Hobbit as a child, he admits to being impressed by the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where Bilbo was of course played by Alien star Ian Holm. "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."

We're with him on that. So, do you agree? Would Freeman make a good Bilbo? Should, more importantly, Freeman make a good Bilbo? And how gutting must it be to turn down the role of a lifetime? As ever, vent your thoughts below...

The Unfortunates will air on Sunday 17 October, at 8pm.
 


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Your Comments

RE: Freeman!
I'm not sure, he's not that well known globally yet - He's likeable sure but I big role like Bilbo? More

Posted by Sphinx at 19:50 on 12 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Freeman!
No, I fear not. He plays everything as too knowing, too smug. Hollander conveys "out of his depth-ness" brilliantly so he'd be perfect. I really hope this Freeman nonsense stops soon. More

Posted by Jayseph at 18:14 on 12 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: hmm
L: bleugh07 Doesn't seem like he cares enough, to me. He's a fairly bland actor, and the obvious choice for the Bilbo role, but the fact that he neither knows the books nor has particular passion for the films worries me. ought the same. More

Posted by Big_Pants at 21:17 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Martin Freeman Talks The Hobbit
If we're basing casting suggestions mainly on height followed by talent, then has anyone considered Peter dinklage for the role. Or Danny de Vito. More

Posted by garyfrenchkangaroo at 18:34 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Martin Freeman Talks The Hobbit
Glad to see it's not just me that finds his everyman act a tad long in the tooth. It would be very very bad if he was to play Bilbo. I sum up his acting style thusly: "Bored whimsy".     More

Posted by zombie mastermind at 18:25 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: sdfwef
Why do these threads always get spammed by fuckers trying to flog crappy bootleg clothing and accessories? Piss off!   Anyway, back on topic. In my earlier post I forgot to add that I think that Matthew Goode wouldn't be an ideal choice for Bilbo. I've had the misfortune to watch him in both Leap Year and Watchmen and, although he was OK in the latter, I just can't imagine him as a hobbit I'd want to care about in either one or two films.   As for the height issue, I know tha More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 15:35 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Got to be Tom Hollander!
L: Emyr Thy King L: superdan Hmm I'm not sure about this. I'm probably one of the only people who doesn't think Freeman's a very talented actor. He's fine enough in TV, I guess, but I really can't see him carrying a big budget film such as the Hobbit. I agree that Hollander would be a far better choice - he convey's bewilderment and the feeling of being out of his depth very well and plus he actually a Hobbit. o, he i] as even he is too tall to be an actual hobbit. However, his shor More

Posted by superdan at 14:40 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Got to be Tom Hollander!
L: superdan Hmm I'm not sure about this. I'm probably one of the only people who doesn't think Freeman's a very talented actor. He's fine enough in TV, I guess, but I really can't see him carrying a big budget film such as the Hobbit. I agree that Hollander would be a far better choice - he convey's bewilderment and the feeling of being out of his depth very well and plus he actually a Hobbit. o, he i] as even he is too tall to be an actual hobbit. However, his shorter than average heig More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 14:30 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Got to be Tom Hollander!
Does anybody know if Tom Hollander even auditioned for / would be interested in the role of Bilbo? I know that Matthew Goode did (this is from a Feb 2010 interview, when Del Toro was still attached to The Hobbit): "But just before we met, he'd auditioned for the role of Bilbo Baggins in Guillermo del Toro's two-part film of The Hobbit. As he is the first to admit, he's not an obvious choice – 'Look at the size of me for Christ's sake!' If he got the part, he would, he says, find it almost More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 14:15 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Got to be Tom Hollander!
I think he's wonderful in Sherlock and I certainly wouldn't weep if he got the role of Bilbo but I have to agree, Tom Hollander would be an inspired choice! More

Posted by Big_Pants at 13:49 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Got to be Tom Hollander!
Hmm I'm not sure about this. I'm probably one of the only people who doesn't think Freeman's a very talented actor. He's fine enough in TV, I guess, but I really can't see him carrying a big budget film such as the Hobbit. I agree that Hollander would be a far better choice - he convey's bewilderment and the feeling of being out of his depth very well and plus he actually a Hobbit. More

Posted by superdan at 12:54 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

Got to be Tom Hollander!
Although his understated performance in Sherlock has made me change my mind of him recently, I don' think he would be right for Bilbo. At all. There's one man who is perfect for the role - has exactly the right look and talent and that is Tom Hollander. Give that man the role and stop all this silly talk of Freeman. More

Posted by Jayseph at 12:36 on 11 October 2010 | Report This Post

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