Martin Freeman says production on The Hobbit was rescheduled so he could play Bilbo Baggins

(Image credit: MGM)

It appears Martin Freeman was truly destined to visit Middle-Earth. The actor, who played Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s three Hobbit movies, has revealed that the entire production schedule on the first instalment was moved to accommodate him. 

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Freeman reflected on the audition process: “I remember going – 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, and it said ‘Martin, we want this to be you.’” 

Naturally, Freeman felt much more relaxed after that vote of confidence. However, a problem soon arose: Sherlock season 2 was due to start filming at the same time as The Hobbit – and, as Freeman jokingly put it, “The BBC weren’t playing ball.”

(Image credit: MGM)

Just when all hope seemed lost and Freeman was starting rehearsals on a new play, the actor having accepted that he may never visit Hobbiton, his agent called. “I got a call saying there’s been a change of plan,” Freeman said. “Peter Jackson [who had taken over as director] has rearranged the schedule of The Hobbit around you so that you can start The Hobbit, then go off and do Sherlock, then come back and finish The Hobbit. That was quite a phone call.” 

Freeman was suitably astonished that Jackson went as far as to alter the entire production schedule for the thousands of people just to have him on board. Thankfully, it was worth it, as Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo Baggins was a hit with fans – especially here at GamesRadar+.

You can catch Martin Freeman in Breeders, Monday nights at 10 pm on FX. For those of you desperate for another trip to Middle-Earth, there’s a Lord of the Rings TV show on the way.

Millicent Thomas

Millicent Thomas was once a freelance games and film journalist, writing for publications including GamesRadar, Total Film,,, Wireframe, Little White Lies, Culturess, SciFiNow, and more. She is now in international PR and marketing for Ubisoft.