23 October 2010

Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins

Martin Freeman the British actor best known for his role as Tim Canterbury in the UK version of The Office is to play Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s two part adaptation of The Hobbit.  For fans of the actor everywhere this will come as great news – as well (one can only hope) as those of the Tolkien novel.

He may even get the opportunity to film in the UK if the location shoots are moved away from New Zealand because of an industrial dispute.  Although the New Zealanders will make every effort to renegotiate the deal it seems that some part of the UK may well benefit from the action.  Freeman seems to be perfect casting: as well as having delivered a number of Bilbo-like performances in his career he also has a believable likenes to Ian Holm who played the older Bilbo in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The role of Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves goes to British heart throb actor Richard Armitage.  As well as currently starring in the BBC spy drama Spooks, Armitage can be seen in the new Captain America movie.  He is adept at playing goodies and baddies alike, relying on his dark good looks (as well as acting talent of course!) for both.  As well as the dashing hero in Spooks he most recently appeared as the nast Guy of Gisburne in the BBC's short live Robin Hood reboot.

As many people outside of the UK may not be familiar with the actors who have been chosen for the various roles in The Hobbit, here are pictures of the cast.

Below (top left) is Richard Armitage together with pictures of other The Hobbit actors.  Next to him is Aidan Turner who has been in the BBC3 cult smash Being Human as the vampire John Mitchell.  Underneath we have Rob Kazinsky who played Sean Slater in the BBC soap opera Eastenders.  They both have extensive experience of snarling in their recent TV roles so will be quite at home in The Hobbit as they will both play dwarves.  Turner will play Kili and Kazinsky gets the role of Fili.

Kazinsky particularly must be pleased to death to cast off the shackles of TV soap (however successful and worthy) and must be anticipating doing an Orlando after appearing in these movies.

Middle right is Graham McTavish whose face is (you  have guessed it) also familiar to British TV audiences.  The actor who has been chosen to play Dwalin in The Hobbit has, like the others in this ensemble, been around for quite a while.  His face may be familair to you as that of Warden Ackerman in Red Dwarf  which he played in five episodes of series 8. Mainstream US audiences may possibly recognise him as Ferguson who appeared in 4 episodes of season 4 of Prison Break.

Other dwarves will be John Callen (bottom left).  He will play Óin, son of Gróin.  Next on the bottom row (l to r) is Mark Hadlow  (Dori) and Peter Hambleton who will also play dwarves.  The films will attempt to capture the lucrative Christmas market and will be released in the December of 2012 and 2013.

Freeman has been in many TV shows as a jobbing actor as well as in co-starring roles but is also well known as a theater actor too.  He has appeared in several films, most notably as Arthur Dent in the adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Other films have included the Richard Curtis comedy Love Actually and Ali G Indahouse.

He also made two very brief cameos in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (he is a good friend of writer Simon Pegg).   TV roles are too abundant to mention but most recently he surprised and impressed viewers with is excellent portrayal of a modern day Dr Watson in the recent BBC drama Sherlock (picture left, with Benedict Cumberbatch).

It seems that if you are a fan of the BBC’s output then you will recognise a good number of the actors in The Hobbit.  If they can be trusted to do one thing it is to hire calibre actors.  At the very least it's that part of The Hobbit sorted: if the movie is half as good as its casting it's going to be wonderful.