Martin Freeman almost lost Hobbit role because of Sherlock

He said the BBC "weren't playing ball"

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Martin Freeman almost lost out on his lead role in The Hobbit film series due to filming on BBC One’s Sherlock.


The Middle-Earth blockbuster was originally going to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water), but was later taken over by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings).

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Freeman revealed that both directors wanted him for the role of Bilbo Baggins, but despite this it almost went to somebody else due to the rigid schedule of the BBC’s detective drama.

He said: “Because I had to do series two of Sherlock, I couldn’t do Bilbo. I couldn’t do it. The BBC weren’t playing ball, no one was interested on the Sherlock or the BBC side in ‘ok let’s see how this can work out.’

“I said to my agent, Michael, ‘I’m going to have to let this go, aren’t I?’ And he said, ‘I’m really sorry, I think you are because we are contracted to do Sherlock.'”

It seemed like Freeman’s unexpected journey had come to an end before it could even begin, until he received a phone call from Jackson that changed everything.

The prolific filmmaker had rearranged his shooting schedule so that Freeman could start filming The Hobbit, take a break to work on Sherlock and then return to New Zealand to complete the fantasy adventure movie.

Freeman added: “They could have had a lot of people doing Bilbo Baggins and the fact that he had that much faith in me was astonishing really. I felt like an extremely lucky person and I’ll always love Peter for that.”


Freeman starred in all three films of The Hobbit trilogy, which scored a combined box office gross of nearly $3 billion.