For serious fans, the still-under-construction road to "The Hobbit" has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. First Guillermo del Toro was directing, then he wasn't. Now we're anxiously waiting to see if Peter Jackson will take the gig. Beyond that, there have been studio woes, casting rumors galore, will-they-or-won't-they debates over who's coming back from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and who won't... in short, enough to make a person's head spin. Then pop off and roll into a nearby storm drain. Or Hobbit hole, if you will.
Yesterday The Sun ran a story claiming that Martin Freeman, star of the UK version of "The Office" and the (vastly underrated) adaptation of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," had been offered the lead role of Bilbo Baggins. An offer which he had to decline due to other obligations, the report said, citing an unnamed source. Now we have a follow-up -- again, sourced to an unnamed individual(s) -- from Entertainment Weekly. The news, if true, is much brighter this time: MGM and New Line came back to Freeman with a schedule that would allow him to fulfill his commitments while also taking the lead "Hobbit" role.
In short: EFF YES. Freeman is great. I don't have much experience with "The Office," but he was a fantastic Arthur Dent. Dent and Bilbo are alike in many ways; I imagine we'd see him channeling some of the character from that previous effort in bringing the Ring-bearing hobbit to life. Bear in mind that the news comes from an anonymous source, so the reliability of the information is in question. The fact remains though: Freeman would make a great Bilbo and, if what's reported is true, it's encouraging to see the studio recognizing that fact and pursuing him in this way. Here's hoping it all works out.