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Martin Freeman Says Peter Jackson Shifted 'Hobbit' Production to Ensure He'd Play Bilbo Baggins

The actor explains how much he wanted the role and why he almost lost it.
'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'   |   Warner Bros. Pictures
The actor explains how much he wanted the role and why he almost lost it.

It seems Martin Freeman was the only actor in mind when it came to casting a young Bilbo Baggins for 2012's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In fact, Peter Jackson wanted him in the role so bad, he shifted the entire production schedule to accommodate Freeman. The actor explains what happened in a career breakdown video for Vanity Fair posted Friday. 

"I remember going — along with half of Britain — on tape for it. And when I arrived in the casting room...there was a note from Guillermo del Toro, who at the time was slated to direct," Freeman began. 

Basically, the note said the role was his to lose, so relax, Freeman explained. And while his read/taping went well, there was a problem: his schedule for BBC's Sherlock, which would not allow him to do The Hobbit, Freeman said. Del Toro would later be replaced by Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

It seemed all hope was lost, the actor said, and Freeman was trying to accept he would not play Bilbo, a role he very much wanted. 

"And then I got a call from [my agent] who said there's been a change of plan. Peter Jackson has rearranged the schedule of The Hobbit around you, so that you can start The Hobbit, then go off and do Sherlock and then finish The Hobbit again." 

Freeman continued, "That was an amazing thing to hear, because talk about a vote of confidence. He could have had a lot of people doing Bilbo Baggins, and the fact that he had that much faith in me, that was astonishing really. And the fact that he could move a schedule as titanic as that was going to be and a production, which does not move quickly, was kind of amazing. And I felt like an extremely lucky person."

Freeman would go on to star in two more Hobbit installments, all directed by Jackson. 

Watch Freeman's career breakdown below. 

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