Martin Freeman Back as Bilbo Baggins in “THE HOBBIT” Sequel

Like all Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins is fond of his comfortable existence; all he needs to be happy is a full pantry and a good book. When the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves unexpectedly appear on Bilbo’s doorstep and invite him to join them on a dangerous adventure, Bilbo’s life changes forever. Initially skeptical of the invitation, Bilbo’s spirit of adventure leads him to join the Company of Thorin Oakenshield and become the “burglar” required to complete their quest to outwit a ferocious dragon and reclaim the Dwarves’ stolen treasure. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, Bilbo’s wit and courage prove that there is indeed more to this Hobbit than meets the eye.

British actor Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

As the second film begins, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo, Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the Company are shaken and exhausted ... but not broken.

Perhaps most changed of all is Bilbo Baggins himself. “I think, as the journey continues, Bilbo is able to look at the world a bit more square on,” says Freeman of the Hobbit at the center of the tale. “He is still the person he was; he is still frightened. He’s not a fighter or adventurer by nature, but to be among different species that want to kill him or eat him ... it doesn’t need to be said how huge a change that is. And Bilbo finds a bravery that he didn’t know he had, and, more importantly, that none of the others knew he had.”

From his encounter beneath the Goblin Tunnels in the cave of the emaciated and conniving creature known as Gollum, Bilbo has emerged with something more than his courage. He has managed to steal Gollum’s “precious” ring with the power to make its wearer invisible.

“Bilbo is beginning to have a strange relationship with this gold ring,” say screenwriter and producer Philippa Boyens. “He’s beginning to have a sense that there’s something off about it. It’s a tough choice for him to put it on and disappear, and he takes it off as soon as he can. Having such a great actor as Martin Freeman helps you find your way through this idea that this is not just a magic trinket that turns you invisible. Not every choice he had to make was a good choice down in those holes beneath the mountain.”

Bilbo chooses to conceal this new information from Gandalf, and, for McKellen, Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo in this moment illustrates the art the actor brings to his performance. “Martin has a palette of subtlety, and it’s often unpredictable,” McKellen observes. “He doesn’t like to do the same thing twice in front of the camera, so with a multitude of takes, in every one of those takes, Martin will give you a different nuance, a different color, a different aspect of the character he’s playing. You don’t know quite what’s going to happen next, which makes your reaction all the more real. With each take, I discovered something new about Bilbo.”

A production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” will be released in 3D, 2D and IMAX theaters in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures on Dec. 11, 2013.