British actor Martin Freeman was flattered to learn Peter Jackson delayed filming of The Hobbit to accommodate the star's busy schedule - because he was "sad" at the prospect of missing out on the lead role.
The star was forced to turn down the part of Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Middle Earth epic due to commitments on BBC series Sherlock, in which he plays sleuth Sherlock Holmes' sidekick Dr Watson.
However, executives at New Line and MGM studios were so determined to recruit Freeman they proposed a new timeline which would allow the Love Actually star to be in New Zealand for the shoot.
Freeman jumped at the chance to accept the role - and he's grateful to director Jackson for allowing him to be a part of the movie.
He tells Total Film, "I had to turn it down because of being contractually obliged to do the second series of Sherlock for the BBC, which we are doing in the middle of this year.
"When I found out I couldn't do both it was very sad. And then it was very flattering when Peter Jackson rearranged the filming around my availability."
Production on the highly-anticipated Lord Of The Rings prequel was originally scheduled to begin this month (Feb11) but has been postponed for a short while after Jackson underwent surgery to treat a perforated ulcer.