Nobody’s going to argue that Sherlock will always be remembered as the breakout role of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s career, with the huge success of the global phenomenon catapulting him into the limelight and launching him straight in the direction of Hollywood stardom.
Martin Freeman has also done pretty well for himself out of the equation, but the BBC’s Holmes and Watson re-teamed in a mega budget blockbuster the same year the second season of the hit crime thriller was released, albeit in very different circumstances and at opposite ends of the character spectrum in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Ironically, Freeman had originally turned down the role of Bilbo Baggins due to scheduling conflicts with Sherlock, before he and Cumberbatch both ended up as part of the ensemble anyway. While the former may have played the lead and anchored the entire narrative, the latter didn’t even appear on set, having suited up in a motion capture leotard to lend his movements and vocals to both Smaug the dragon and The Necromancer.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may have earned over a billion dollars at the box office, which was to be expected from Jackson returning to Middle-Earth after his classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the sluggish pacing and unconvincing visual effects came in for heavy criticism. Freeman was roundly praised for his central performance, though, while Benedict Cumberbatch‘s minimal screen time was drastically increased across follow ups The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.
Almost a decade later and with an Amazon TV show and Warner Bros. animated movie in the works, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has found itself back in the limelight as one of the ten most-watched titles on Netflix.