Martin Freeman thinks looking like Ian Holm was a ''good omen''.

The 41-year-old actor plays hobbit Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', taking over the role from Ian's portrayal in the 'Lord of the Rings' franchise, but luckily the make-up artists on set found that Martin's face was almost ''identical'' to the older actor's features - making the character more convincing.

Martin told Radio Times magazine: ''When I was having my face cast [for prosthetic ears], I was told that the dimensions of Ian's and my face are almost identical.

''I think he's got a tiny bit of a wider bridge of the nose. But all our measurements are kind of the same.''

Although Martin secured the role in the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's popular fantasy novel there was a brief moment where he thought he would have to turn it down to film the popular BBC series 'Sherlock' with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Martin explained: '''The Hobbit' would have been very difficult to pass on, do you know what I mean? It's not the kind of ship that comes into dock very often. There was a period when I had to watch it sail away, so it speak ... It looked like I couldn't do it because of filming for the second series of 'Sherlock'. So

with a heavy heart I had to pass it on for a while ...''

Luckily for Martin - who is married to Amanda Abbington and father to their children Joe, seven, and three-year-old Grace - director Peter Jackson held the spot for him for two months during shooting of the film, adding: ''Maintaining the 'Englishness' of 'The Hobbit' was very important to us. So, we looked to Britain for the majority of the casting.''