For those of you who have been following the development (and the drama) of The Hobbit pre-production, this will come to no surprise to you. Heck, when I first heard his name pop up, I thought, “This has to happen. I can’t think of anyone better for the role.” This week, it’s been officially announced: Martin Freeman has been cast as Bilbo for The Hobbit.
This prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (although The Hobbit was actually published first) tells the story of Frodo’s uncle Bilbo (played previously in LoTR by the older Ian Holm) as Gandalf sends him and a crap-ton of dwarves on a quest to stop the evil and treasure-hoarding dragon Smaug. It’s in The Hobbit that Bilbo finds the one Ring, which eventually spawns the events of the latter three books.
There are a few reasons Martin Freeman is a great Bilbo in my eyes:
1) He has hobbit-like features. Round face, kind of short and maybe even slightly on the husky side (although I’m sure he’ll either gain some weight for the role or they’ll pad him up). He also has very Samwise Gamgee hair.
2) He plays polite and inviting pretty well. Plus, he was Tim (aka British Jim) on the original Office series and he was adorable.
3) He plays exasperated even better. Look at Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which I loved even though many Adams purists weren’t as thrilled). His character Dent, Arthur Dent (as in the the late Dentarthurdent… it’s sort of a threat, you see and… sorry, fangirl moment) just wants to have a comfortable breakfast, but instead goes on an adventure after the Earth is demolished. In The Hobbit, Bilbo just wants to have a comfortable breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper, but instead goes on an adventure because, well, Gandalf is making him and the dwarves are only going to leave his house when he does.
Actually, compared to Arthur in the Hitchhiker books, Freeman’s Arthur is actually more likable (less bitchy) but didn’t feel like he was betraying the original literary version. Considering Bilbo is perhaps the most passive aggressive character in Tolkien’s world, maybe Freeman’s Bilbo will be a little bit easier to swallow (which helps you if you’re an orc).
Most of the dwarves have been cast (although I didn’t recognize any of the actors), but Ian McKellen returning as Gandalf isn’t official yet. We’re also not entirely sure who the director will be. LoTR director and Hobbit producer Peter Jackson is reportedly going to have to take the reins if only to keep the project stable, but I would have liked to see what Guillermo Del Toro would have done with the film (something tells me his Smaug would have been quite a fearsome sight to behold).
Image provided by Geoffrey Chandler.