Martin Freeman of The Office To Play Bilbo Baggins in Hobbit Film

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Martin Freeman at the UK Film Premiere of "Breaking and Entering"

Richard Lewis/WireImage

Will Freeman’s scenes be re-shot with John Krasinski for the American release?

In a statement, director Peter Jackson yesterday announced that British actor Martin Freeman will play the lead role of Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings two-part prequel The Hobbit.

Jackson, who was just confirmed as the films’ director last week, sounded positively giddy about the choice of Freeman: “There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin.”

(See “The Hobbit Goes Hollywood.”)

Freeman is perhaps best-known to American readers for playing mild-mannered salesman Tim Canterbury in the original British version of The Office. He has also appeared in Love, Actually and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and currently plays Dr. Watson in the BBC’s contemporary update of Sherlock Holmes.

Some may wonder if Freeman has the dramatic chops for the role; we have no comments but will merely offer as evidence this scene from the second season finale of The Office:

(See “Peter Jackson: Lord of the Cinema.”)