And the star of Sherlock and The Office admitted to Metro that he was devastated at the prospect of missing out on starring in Peter Jackson's new Middle Earth movies.
"I distinctly remember the conversation with my agent,’ he told the paper. "It was hard. It was very hard. I was very disappointed."
Freeman, 41, was already contracted to appear in the second series of Sherlock for the BBC at the same time that Peter Jackson had scheduled The Hobbit to shoot.
But then his disappointment turned to joy when he heard that the director had decided to move the film shoot to accommodate him.
"I got a call to say Peter had rearranged his shoot so I could do both. I couldn't believe it."
And Jackson has admitted that his heart was set on Freeman playing Bilbo.
He said: "The job with Bilbo is balancing the comedy and quirkiness with the drama, and that's what Martin is really superb at doing."
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