Martin Freeman Didn't Read The Hobbit Until He Was Cast As Bilbo

Greg Tito

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Sep 29, 2005
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Martin Freeman Didn't Read The Hobbit Until He Was Cast As Bilbo



The star of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings prequel had never read the source material until he scored the contract.

Watching the old Rankin/Bass animated film of The Hobbit when I was a kid prompted me to go out and read the book. I devoured it and The Lord of the Rings soon after, followed by The Silmarillion and all things Tolkien by the time I was 8 years old. That's why it's inconceivable for me to hear that Martin Freeman, in addition to being an Englishman like Tolkien but also everyone's unanimous choice to play Bilbo Baggins, admits to never having read it growing up. At least Freeman had the wherewithal to say in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais that he has done so since he learned of his casting, and that he enjoyed it.

"I wasn't a fan of Tolkien before, I am now," Freeman said. Good man, doing your homework.

Despite that, I do think that Freeman is a great choice to play the adventurous hobbit, but there was a worry that Freeman wouldn't be able to film The Hobbit in New Zealand due to commitments to the BBC series Sherlock. That has all been worked out, apparently. "I know my work plan," Freeman said. "I start in January, then I'll have a break in the summer so I can shoot the second season of Sherlock, the BBC show where I portray Watson, and then I'll be back in New Zealand in September in order to finish the movie by the end of the year."

Freeman is more concerned with appearing in a strongly written film than becoming a big movie star. "[The story is] the most important thing for me. My priority has always been to find a great script," Freeman said before backtracking a bit. "It's true, there isn't a final script for The Hobbit yet. That's why Peter can't tell me much about how Bilbo is going to be. In spite of that, I trust him completely. He's obviously going to be younger than the Bilbo portrayed by Ian Holm in the Lord of the Rings."

The biggest difference for Freeman in playing Bilbo is that he finally gets to play a character that takes some initiative. "I love the fact that the majority of the characters I've portrayed in the past always react to something, Bilbo, on the contrary, is an active character. He creates his own adventure."

Freeman's gotten the chance to play around with some of the prosthetics that he will have to wear. "A couple of weeks ago, I tried Bilbo's hairy feet for the first time, and also the ears, although mine are big enough already, he said. "Moreover, they made molds out of those parts of my body since I'm going to be using prosthetics for many months."

How does he think the role will change his career? "Well, my career has always been step-by-step, always in the search of good scripts: Love Actually, The Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy, TV shows like The Office or Sherlock," he said. "I look for honesty in every work I do. I never wanted to have a bigger pool in my yard."

So wait, when The Hobbit comes out, Freeman will have played Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide, Watson, and Bilbo Baggins. I mean that's like a nerd trifecta. What's next? He plays Doctor Who, Indiana Jones, Flash Gordon, Rick Deckard, and Khan Noonien Singh over the next ten years? Sheesh, save some roles for the other actors would you?

Source: The One Ring [http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2010/11/11/40339-martin-freeman-is-ready-to-be-bilbo/]

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Casual Shinji

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Jul 18, 2009
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Half of the cast of LoTR hadn't read the book before they were cast.

Aslong as he looks the part I don't care.
 

Raregolddragon

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Oct 26, 2008
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Eeeennn Maybe they all should I mean they can think of it like studying for the lines in way. But they really should.
 

emeraldrafael

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Scarecrow 8 said:
I have still haven't read it. I don't think it's that importent.
Yay, I'm not alone.

actually... i'd like to see it more if he didnt read the book. Itd be more interesting. Granted, he's getting a script and stuff. but still.
 

Tharwen

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May 7, 2009
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Hey, you left out his upcoming one-man performance of every episode of Firefly from that list at the bottom.

I seem to remember liking him, but I can't tell if that's because Arthur Dent is one of my favourite characters ever or because he's actually a good actor. Anyway, he's read Tolkien, so he has at least one quality.
 

tehroc

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Jul 6, 2009
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I find that odd as The Hobbit was required reading in my 6th or 7th grade English class. We read it out loud in class for a few weeks. Though it was an honor class. The teacher also used it as an example of storytelling as delivery was as important as being an articulate reader.
 

Rusty Bucket

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Dec 2, 2008
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Greg Tito said:
I devoured it and The Lord of the Rings soon after, followed by The Silmarillion and all things Tolkien by the time I was 8 years old.
You read The Silmarillion before you were 8?! Good god, that's impressive. I'm 19 and I still can't get through it properly.

OT: I think it's odd that they'd cast someone who hasn't read the source material. That said, I really like Freeman as an actor and he seems like a pretty good choice. I'm also impressed with his general philosophy about this stuff, and he does seem to have a grasp on the character.
 

bak00777

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Oct 3, 2009
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i remember trying to Read the Hobbit(which is now one of my favorite books) when i was like 10. I thought that since i could read the Harry Potter books by myself this should be now problem. My tiny mind couldnt even handle the amount of detail in the first chapter. A few years later i picked it back up for something to do inbetween the Standardized tests my school was required to give us. I finished it in a couple days. Since then(about 5years) i have reread it about 3times. Man i love that book.
 

HobbesMkii

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Jun 7, 2008
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Doesn't bother me. You don't even have to be a fully-functioning literate to be a convincing actor. And Martin Freeman made The Office for me.
 

cerebus23

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Rusty Bucket said:
Greg Tito said:
I devoured it and The Lord of the Rings soon after, followed by The Silmarillion and all things Tolkien by the time I was 8 years old.
You read The Silmarillion before you were 8?! Good god, that's impressive. I'm 19 and I still can't get through it properly.

OT: I think it's odd that they'd cast someone who hasn't read the source material. That said, I really like Freeman as an actor and he seems like a pretty good choice. I'm also impressed with his general philosophy about this stuff, and he does seem to have a grasp on the character.
oh heck i read the the hobbit in like 5th 6th grade, tried the lord of the rings but got bogged down in the two towers, which dies drag a bit in the middle, and gave up reread it in high school and loved it by then. the silmarillion tho i read it after lotr but is about as hard a read as you can get being it very biblical in a old testament sort of way minus alot of the rape, and murder.

props to the article author of you could get thru all of them as a child.
 

Ernie1042

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Aug 8, 2008
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Can't really blame the guy. I could barely make it four chapters into The Fellowship of the Ring. Some people absolutely devour those types of books, but... meh. I found it kinda dry.

He's a good actor though. And I give him props for being dedicated enough to read it after he got the part. With the recent craze of making movies out of books, I'm guessing the majority of actors don't read the book. After all, they're actors. What do you expect?
 

duchaked

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Dec 25, 2008
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I mean it might be better actors for LotR didn't really get into Tolkien until they were cast
that way they take it as inspiration and build off of it all and aren't just gushing the whole time lol
 

mattaui

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Oct 16, 2008
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I'd rather the guy be a good actor and fit the part and have no idea about the source material than the other way around.
 

Lightslei

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Feb 18, 2010
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Go back to Sherlock. Short seasons make me sad :(, especially for such an interesting show.