Any movie news coming from the British newspaper The Sun deserves to be met with a skeptical eye, but apparently its recent report that MGM and New Line want Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" isn't far off the mark.
According to The Sun, Freeman had to decline a seven-figure offer due to a scheduling conflict with the BBC series "Sherlock," but Entertainment Weekly reports that the two studios are working hard to accommodate Freeman's shooting schedule, and negotiations are ongoing.
Here's hoping MGM and New Line will reconsider their curious decision. His low-key performance as Tim in the original U.K. version of "The Office" may have been spot-on, but he just isn't especially interesting to watch on the big screen.
He's the reason I didn't rush out to see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" — and he's the reason I left underwhelmed when I finally caught up with it.
Freeman's just too dry to play an eccentric character like Bilbo, especially for what is expected to be a two-part blockbuster. What's more, Freeman turns 39 on Wednesday, which is a little old for the "Hobbit" role — although Jackson's award-winning VFX team is known to work wonders.
Of course, regardless of who plays Bilbo, "The Hobbit" will be sold on the strength of one name — Peter Jackson. The Oscar-winning filmmaker is expected to return to Middle-earth for the big-budget adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to "Lord of the Rings." (Ian Holm played Bilbo in Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.)
Freeman was previously seen on the big screen in "Love Actually," "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz" and Anthony Minghella's last film, "Breaking and Entering."
The first part of "The Hobbit" is expected to hit cinemas in December 2012, but that date is very much up in the air while MGM sorts out its financial troubles.