The moviemaker was determined to cast Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the Middle Earth epics, but was distraught after learning the star had committed to BBC TV series Sherlock, in which he plays Sherlock Holmes' sidekick Dr. Watson.
He offered to delay filming in New Zealand to accommodate the Love Actually actor's busy schedule, and Jackson admits waiting to hear if Freeman could commit left him fraught with worry.
Jackson says, ""We were in trouble. I was really panicking. I was having sleepless nights. We were probably six weeks away from the beginning of the shoot, and we hadn't settled on anyone else, and I was torturing myself by watching Sherlock on an iPad at 4 o'clock in the morning.""
He adds, ""Martin was the only person that we wanted for that role, and that was really before we met Martin. We knew him from The Office and Hitchhiker's Guide (to the Galaxy), and we just felt he had qualities that would be perfect for Bilbo. The stuffy repressed English quality. He's a dramatic actor, he's not a comedian, but he has a talent for comedy.""
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three films based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien, will hit screens this month (Dec12), with the subsequent two installments of the trilogy set for release in 2013 and 2014.