Martin Freeman: The unknown part of the actor’s job

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MARTIN FREEMAN

Together met up with Martin Freeman, a hugely talented actor who spans the genres with ease.

Martin Freeman’s career has spanned the genres: comedy, sci-fi, action, costume drama, porn. Well, the last he has a little issue with. According to popular belief, his character in Love Actually was a stand-in on a porno. But Martin Freeman wants to clear his reputation.

“We weren’t working on a porno, we were stand-ins on a very high brow, sort of racy Merchant Ivory,” he delivers with a sombre expression. “It’s all a misconception.”

The 46-year-old gives a stand-offish impression. In a comfortable, modish ensemble of jeans, white shirt and black waist coast, Martin Freeman peppers the conversation with half laughs and titters and tends to look beyond my shoulder when formulating his thoughts. He’s affable and friendly but it’s clear the promotional trail isn’t his desired territory.  But The Office and Sherlock star has to sell his latest offering and potentially his biggest movie yet, Black Panther.

In the ground-breaking latest production from Marvel Studios, Martin plays Everett Ross, a slick CIA agent who comes to Black Panther’s aid in his fight against Michael B Jordan’s warlord, Killmonger. While we’d already met Freeman’s clandestine operative in Captain America: Civil War, it’s the first time we’re catching the actor really flex his blockbuster muscles. And the star can more than hold his own. Reflecting on his experience, he chats about impressing his kids, working with his The Hobbit co-star and friend, Andy Serkis and why he hopes race will no longer be an issue in Hollywood.

He also talks about a reunion for The Office, forthcoming series of Sherlock, fame and why he gets bored so easily. Freeman lives in London. He shares kids, Joseph, 12 and Grace, 9 with ex-wife Amanda Abbington.

Together: It struck me during that scene with Andy, it was like a Hobbit reunion. Was that cool for you?
Martin Freeman: It wasn’t something on my mind the whole time. I’ve known Andy for many years and I was very excited to work with him again because he’s a tremendous actor. Yes, I do know, you could feel a buzz if you want to call it that, about the two of us doing a scene together, people were saying ‘Oh, it’s like The Hobbit again’.

Andy’s my friend, but that wasn’t even remotely in my mind when we were doing the scene because my main concentration was on doing the scene right.

Are your kids super excited with you being in this?
They’re equally as excited about what I work on, but that’s to say, they’re not very excited at all [laughs]. So, it’s however way you look at it. They’re more excited by the people I get to work with, they’re in awe of Danai and Lupita, Daniel, Chad.

Black Panther is being heralded as a Hollywood game changer and hugely important for socio cultural race relations. Was that a big burden on your shoulders?
I’m getting asked an awful lot about that and I’m keen to reiterate, it’s not about just race and just changing the structure of Hollywood, certainly the story isn’t about that. Yes, it’s a first of its kind with a cast of majority black actors and it’s also a very empowering film for female actors but beyond that, that’s not the crux of the action.

It appears to me, what an archaic notion to focus on and I know it’s hugely significant but isn’t that wrong? It shouldn’t make cause for any headline, there are characters in the story, some are black, some are brown, some are white, and that’s life.  I hope this is it, we don’t have to address this anymore when it comes to a film and look at it instead as a piece of entertainment that will engross the viewer, thrill them, challenge them, put forward yes, socio cultural issues, but on the whole leave the audience exhilarated. Then we’ve all done our job right.