Bilbo Baggins (aka actor Martin Freeman) revealed last night that he had a secret weapon when it came to perfecting the sword fighting scenes in the hit film The Hobbit – playing squash!
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme, Freeman revealed that before being picked for his starring role, he had never properly acted with a sword before. However, he was able to master the technique swiftly and maintain his fitness because of his prowess at squash.
In his youth Martin played squash to a competitively high level, indeed he was part of the British national junior squash squad between the ages of 9 and 14, before his passion for acting diverted him from sporting greatness to Golden Globes.
However, the skills and techniques acquired through squash meant he picked up swordsmanship really quickly and was more than able to hold his own in the film’s action scenes.
James Willstrop, the current world number one agrees that the sport could be beneficial to many actors and can’t wait to see the film and critique Freeman’s performance. “Squash is a fantastic sport for improving hand to eye co-ordination, but it also works the whole body improving flexibility, agility and range of movement, all essential requirements for any kind of play involving all-round action – sword fighting included. If Martin fancies stepping back on to a court, I’d be happy to play him, but maybe we’ll have to leave the swords in Middle Earth.”
More than 500,000 hobbits – sorry, people – play squash regularly in the UK and with the prospect of a big freeze looming the sport is set to become the nation’s favourite ‘winter’ sport!