"It would have been very difficult to pass on, do you know what I mean? It's not the kind of ship that comes into dock very often."
That's how Martin Freeman describes the opportunity he was given when Peter Jackson asked him to play the lead role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But the 41-year-old actor has told the new issue of Radio Times magazine that his other dream role, that of the Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes in the mega-smash BBC1 drama Sherlock, nearly stopped him making his big leap onto the big screen.
"There was a period when I had to watch it sail away, so to speak," Freeman said. "It looked like I couldn't do it because of filming for the second series of Sherlock. So with a heavy heart I had to pass on it for a while."
Get the new issue of Radio Times magazine, which features listings for 15-21 December but is in shops now, to read a full interview with Freeman – including why his face perfectly fitted the role of Bilbo Baggins, whether Bilbo is a Mod, and why Freeman is "not a children's entertainer"…