Guillermo del Toro backed out of The Hobbit months ago, no new director has been announced, and MGM is still in serious financial trouble, so despite rumors trickling out of Middle Earth itself (aka: New Zealand) that things might be moving forward soon, I’d been extraordinarily worried about the ultimate fate of Peter Jackson’s planned two-part LOTR prequel.
Until today. Today I’m feeling slightly better about things. And it’s all thanks to “the original Jim” (aka Martin Freeman, whose character in the BBC version was “Tim”) from The Office. He’s the latest actor to be mentioned in the same breath as “Bilbo Baggins,” but this time it seems the gossip might carry quite a bit of truth along with it.
According to multiple sources, including Entertainment Weekly and TheOneRing.net, Freeman has been one of the top choices to play Bilbo for a long, long time. He supposedly entered into negotiations for the role, but then talks recently broke down after he declined a seven-figure offer because of his commitment to the British series Sherlock (in which he plays Watson). However, the latest word is that New Line and MGM are trying to work around Freeman’s schedule — that’s how badly they want him involved. (If you’re interested in the latest on MGM’s situation, check out yesterday’s L.A. Times report of a possible restructuring and management change.)
I, for one, would be thrilled if Freeman lands the gig. Though I enjoy the American version of The Office, I much prefer the Brits’ take on things, and Martin’s turn as Tim just broke my heart. I also liked him as Arthur Dent in the 2005 big-screen adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So I’m hoping this is one Hobbit rumor that pans out!
What do other LOTR fans think about this news? Would you be down with Freeman as Bilbo, or are you still pining for James McAvoy to go There and Back Again, or are you going to start a petition for someone else entirely?