A Minute With: Martin Freeman on 'Hobbit,' 'Sherlock' and Hollywood

Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:50am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - From playing a lowly office salesman to traveling across Middle Earth with a pack of dwarves, British actor Martin Freeman has carved out a career of eclectic roles that showcase his deadpan comedy style.

Freeman, 42, rose to recognition as lovesick salesman Tim Canterbury on the British mockumentary "The Office." He is notable for playing literary characters on screen - Arthur Dent in the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and war veteran sidekick John Watson in the BBC's contemporary re-imagining of "Sherlock."

Most recently Freeman was Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's epic cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." He returns to the role in Warner Bros' "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug," the second installment of the cinematic trilogy in U.S. theaters on Friday.

Freeman talked to Reuters about reprising the role, the challenges of maintaining character and avoiding being typecast in Hollywood.

Q: Where do audiences find Bilbo physically and mentally in the "Desolation of Smaug"?

A: They find him very much on the road. When you first see him, he's scouting around for danger and reporting back to the dwarves and the wizard about what he's seeing, so we join him definitely as part of the band of brothers.

And in not too long, we see him not just part of it, but as an absolutely invaluable part of this group because he saves their lives on more than one occasion, gets them out of prison and finds the secret door to Erebor, so he's vital, I would say.

Q: What's the biggest change in Bilbo's character?   Continued...

Cast member Martin Freeman speaks during a panel for the film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" during the Comic Con International convention in San Diego, California July 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni