Martin Freeman nearly rejected Hobbit role fearing it would harm personal life

His role as Bilbo Baggins catapulted Martin Freeman into Hollywood stardom but the actor admits The Hobbit films were difficult for his personal life.

Martin had to spend the best part of two years filming half a world away from his former partner, Sherlock co-star Amanda Abbington, and their two children for the trilogy.

In fact, he nearly turned the lucrative role down to focus on his family.

“It wasn’t an easy ‘yes’,” he admits. “I went to New Zealand in January 2011 and my last day was July 2013 – two-and-a-half years between the beginning and the end.”

Admitting that he wasn’t away for the whole two years “solidly”, Martin, 47, recalls that he felt it would be unfair to ask his actress wife to relocate with him for the duration, as she had her own work to think about.

Speaking at his Bafta career retrospective, A Life in Pictures, he continues: “I was going to be away for a long time and Amanda, who I was with at the time, she’s an actor, a brilliant actor, and it wasn’t the 50s [so] I didn’t feel I could say, ‘Right, you’re coming with me.’

“She had her own life, her own career.”

The couple, who were together for 16 years, split in early 2016.

They had to film scenes together for the BBC’s Sherlock series in which their on-screen marriage also starts to break down after the Watsons have a baby.

Martin has admitted the filming at the time “wasn’t much fun”.

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