Starring in “The Hobbit” trilogy has been a unique experience for British actor Martin Freeman, whose image – as Bilbo Baggins – is in toy shops and stores across the globe.
“The Lego is a good part. I do like the Lego figure,” Martin told Access Hollywood in New York City on Friday at “The Hobbit” junket, referring to his favorite toy so far. “As a dad… all this – the kind of toys-y bits — are fun and also, when I’m old and gray, it’ll be nice to look back on, particularly this, ‘cause I’ve had covers on things before, but not to this extent for one film. So, just the bulk of this stuff, I’ll probably look at and think, ‘I was an actor once.’”
Director Peter Jackson has said Martin (a star of the original British version of “The Office”) was his only choice to play the famed character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel.
“I understand that as well, which is strange,” Martin said, when asked about Peter wanting him – and only him – for the part.
“That I did it for him? That’s just luck. That was never a plan… I think I do all right in the film. But before the film I never thought, ‘I must play Bilbo Baggins. I’m the only one to play him!’ I never had that in mind, so the fact that he’s been very generous about saying that stuff is a real bonus,” Martin said.
The film series kicks off its first installment in theaters on December 14.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin’s co-star from the PBS import series “Sherlock,” is also in the trilogy, playing Smaug, the dragon, and the two actually both auditioned for the films during the early days of their critically acclaimed TV show.
“We went up for it basically about the same time, during the first series of ‘Sherlock’ and he wanted to do it, he really wanted to be Smaug because he remembered that character from boyhood and being a fan of the book as a boy,” Martin told Access. “I was very, very pleased for him when he got that because I think he’s right. I think it’s a very, very good piece of casting.”
The actor said he expects to return to the set of “Sherlock” in March, which will allow him time to do more shooting for “The Hobbit” franchise, which isn’t fully complete.
“[‘Sherlock’] breaks off for me to come back to Middle Earth and then we resume it after Middle Earth again,” he said.
As television fans know, Martin plays Dr. Watson in “Sherlock,” an ex-soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, who works with Benedict as Sherlock. And it turns out, Martin has met the other actor who is playing another new version of the character first imagined by Sir Arthur Doyle – Lucy Liu from CBS’ “Elementary.”
“I’ve seen bits of it. I met Lucy Liu at the Emmys, who was charming,” he said of the American show. “She was really, really charming and I wish them all the best.”
I went to The Hobbit Q & A today at the Regent Street Apple Store.
And now I can add to the list: Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen.
I asked Martin a question about working in New Zealand to which he responded: “Are you from New Zealand?!”
What a wonderful evening!