Martin Freeman was nursing a secret heartache while shooting The Hobbit movies in New Zealand after learning his partner had found a lump in her breast.
The British actor had already embarked on the epic 18-month shoot when his longtime girlfriend Amanda Abbington was told she needed emergency surgery to remove the growth.
Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins in the franchise, wanted to fly back to the U.K. to be with the actress, but she urged him to carry on with work.
She explains, "I said I'd be fine, but he was desperately worried. It was horrible for him. I found the lump after dropping the kids at school. I was sent to a specialist breast unit. They said they needed to get it out quickly because they didn't know if it was malignant. I burst into tears and thought, 'Oh no. I'm going to die. I won't see my children grow up.'"
Abbington admits she sobbed with "sheer relief" when the lump turned out to be a benign milk gland tumour: "When I got the result I burst into tears of sheer relief. What happened has made me value my life so much. Work is great, of course, but your family and health really are everything."
The 38 year old, who has two kids with Freeman, insists he gave her plenty of support during the scare, despite the distance between them.
She recalls, "I was at home one day when a package from Martin arrived. He sent me a beautiful bracelet and ring with a note saying he hoped it would cheer me up. How wonderful is that? I'm lucky to be with someone as romantic now as he was when we met 12 years ago."