A behind-the-scenes still of Martin and Peter Jackson covers the October 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, which features a piece on the long journey to The Hobbit and this bit on Martin:
But Jackson did want to stick with Freeman, who was a lead contender for the title role. Jackson felt that Freeman had an ineffable quality that made him right for the part. “He is very hobbit-y in real life,” says Jackson. “I am, too. I’m proud of it. You do not stray too far from your home, do not get involved in anything too adventurous or dangerous. I largely like to stay at home with my feet up, and Martin has a lot of those qualities.”
But all the delays seemingly had cost the production its leading man. Committed to a second season of the British series Sherlock, Freeman no longer was available. The search for Bilbo continued, but Jackson wasn’t happy with anyone else. “I was lying in bed one morning unable to sleep, watching him on my iPad,” he remembers. “This was right at the point that we literally had to cast Bilbo within a week or we wouldn’t have an actor ready to shoot with us. I just thought, ‘We are in so much trouble.’ “
So Jackson decided to act. “I usually don’t deal with agents,” he says. “But I called Martin’s agent, and I said, ‘Look, do you think Martin would be interested in doing this if we could find a way to actually have a break in our filming so he could do the Sherlock shoot?’ ” The answer was yes.
Still in Bilbo garb during a break in filming Hobbit, Freeman says he’s relieved that it worked out, though he had doubts about being away from his home in England for the many months that would be required. But ultimately, he says, “It was too big a ship. I didn’t want it to leave without me.” Told that Jackson has described him as hobbit-y, Freeman seems to disapprove. “I think he’s more hobbit-y than I am,” he says. “He probably missed the boat on playing Bilbo.”