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'Hobbit' star Martin Freeman cast in 'Fargo' TV series

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The actor who plays Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" films is venturing from Middle Earth to Coen country, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

British actor Martin Freeman has been picked to star opposite Billy Bob Thornton in the FX limited series "Fargo," based on the Oscar-winning 1996 dark crime comedy.

THR says Freeman will play Lester Nygaard, a sad sack character equal to the car salesman William H. Macy played in the film version.

The series will follow a whole new "true crime" story with a new case and characters, including the humor, homicide and "Minnesota nice" of the original, the network promises.

According to THR, "Lester is an insurance salesman who has seen better days. Henpecked by his wife, his life is changed forever when a mysterious stranger comes to town."

The stranger is Lorne Malvo (Thornton), who the network described as a "rootless, manipulative man who meets the small-town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction."

Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen are executive producers on the film, along with "Fargo" stars Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand and Macy.

The 10-episode limited series will premiere in the spring of 2014. Unlike the movie version, which is filmed in Minnesota and North Dakota, the "Fargo" TV series will be shot in Canada.

Meanwhile, Freeman will reprise his role as Bilbo in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" in December. He most recently starred in the sci-fi comedy "The World's End" opposite frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

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