The Hobbit has been dominating headlines recently due to its numerous setbacks and Peter Jackson's noncommittal responses to whether or not he's going to step into the director's chair vacated by Guillermo Del Toro back in May. Before one dark cloud after another chose to settle over the production, speculation ran rampant over more enjoyable topics like which characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy might make an appearance and who would play the lead role of Bilbo Baggins.
Martin Freeman was an early and inspired possibility, but word soon came that he wouldn't be able to join The Hobbit because of his commitments to a second season of the BBC's Sherlock. Last month we reported that Jackson, New Line and MGM were so keen on casting Freeman that they'd returned to him with a revised schedule that would allow him to work on both.
Speaking with Empire, Freeman claims that most of the stories currently floating around are “as yet rumors” and that his association with The Hobbit has not extended past the first time he was forced to turn down the role:
"I did have to say no to it for the second series of Sherlock … But if something could be worked out, that would be great.”
Could it be that Jackson's second offer still wasn't satisfactory? Or is more realistic to assume that perhaps they're still in the middle of negotiating? Either way, Freeman's not closing the door on The Hobbit just yet:
“If there is any outside possibility, then that would be great. But I’ve learned not to think too much or hope too much about stuff. It will happen if it happens.”
He goes on to admit that while he never read any of J.R.R. Tolkien's books as a kid, he is a fan of Jackson's films and of Ian McKellan's performance in particular. He also sounds optimistic about how well he'd fit in with that group:
“I reckon I could do a young Ian Holm. I think I could give that a go.”
I'm holding out hope that Freeman's just being tight-lipped about any potential deals being made and that Jackson and co. are indeed doing their best to get him locked in. There are a fair number of fans who remain unconvinced that Freeman can carry a film, but I've been a big fan of his for quite some time and I'm confident that he'd be capable of delivering everything the role requires.
There's also the possibility that whatever time table was initially being discussed can be totally disregarded now in light of MGM's plans to file for bankruptcy. Given that the very earliest The Hobbit would receive a green light is December, there's a chance that Freeman's schedule will look quite a bit different by then.