Must have been a really good night, above.
And so begins every interview with Martin Freeman: ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½As the affable everyman on the ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Fawlty Towersï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ of our generationï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ At this point, reporters will veer in one of two directions. The plucky, young thing (with a slight crush on ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Timï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½) will inevitably spill forth about what a fan she is, or she’ll laugh about that time the stapler got lodged in the Jell-o mold. For interest’s sake, weï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve decided to forego that conversation, the one about being normal.
Freeman is the star of Hot Fuzz, Dedication, and most recently, Jake Paltrowï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s first film, The Good Night, which stars sister Gwyneth, Penelope Cruz, and Danny DeVito. Despite having lots on his plate, he takes a break to discuss Mandy Mooreï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s obsession with office workers, drug hells, and the unbearable lightness of being hetero. ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Nick Haramis, Interview by Una LaMarche
BB: In an interview, you said of your mom, ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The only disappointment was that I’m not a poof, I think.ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Tell us about that. MF: (Laughs.) Well, first off, I talk a lot of shit. I think the context was something about my upbringing. A lot of the time, parents donï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t jump for joy when their kids say they want to get into the arts. So, I think that was just my way of saying that not only was my mum delighted that all her children went into the arts, but that out of four boys, her only disappointment was that none of us were gay.
BB: Yeah, my parents were so liberalï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½I think they were upset I wasnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t a lesbian. MF: (Dead silence).
BLACKBOOK: I noticed that most journalists describe your ailments or hygienic shortcomingsï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½your legs are different lengths, you’ve got eczema (sometimes), you bite your nails, youï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½re only sort of left-handedï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½maybe instead of telling us about some fungus, you could let us in on a little-known talent of yours. MARTIN FREEMAN: Well, I used to be extremely good at squash.
BB: Aside from the everyman stuff, all the time, whatï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s the biggest misconception about you? MF: That Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½m a comic. Everyone thinks that Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½m a comic or a comedian. BB: Letï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s talk a bit about The Good Night. In it, youï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½re forced to choose between Gwyneth Paltrow and Penelope Cruz. That doesnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t seem like the easiest of decisions. MF: No, certainly not on the face of it. But for my character Gary, for his part, heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s really not having a great time with his real life relationship. Theyï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve sort of stopped communicating. And then he comes across this amazing woman in his dream. She finds him inspiring, sexy, and interestingï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½all these things Gwynethï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s character used to see in him. So yeah, in the context of the film, that choice is much more appealing than the humdrum, fairly sparkless life he has with his wife. BB: Have you ever had the kind of dreams that your character has? MF: Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve had slightly recurring dreams, but Gary has whole narrativesï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½he has a whole relationship, a whole cycle of relationshipsï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½and Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve never had anything that intricate. Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve had dreams that have been startling and rather telling, dreams that make me think, ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½I should do that today.ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ BB: What about waking dreams? MF: Like Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½m going to tell you. BB: Maybe if I go first? I always wanted to go shopping with Bowie… MF: (Laughs.) No, those arenï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t my kinds of waking dreams. Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve had dreams about meeting people and becoming friends with themï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½you know, people I probably wonï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t ever become friends with. BB: I hear you hate the phenomenon of modern celebrityï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½how do you reconcile creative ambition with the spotlight? MF: Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½d be lying if I said that showing off wasnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t at the root of what I do. If I didnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t have a need to be acknowledged or looked at, then Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½d be doing something else. I think thereï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s a difference between doing that while sharing something of yourself, and giving absolutely zilch to the world apart from your own private drug hell.
It becomes a boring riff to say one doesnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t like celebrity, but it does get tedious. And by that, I donï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t mean that things should all be highbrowï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½I like crap, Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½m interested in junk as much as the next personï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½but weï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ve surely hit a point by now where we need to calm down a bit. BB: What was it like working with Jake Paltrow on his first film? MF: Heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s a good combination of classic film-school training and an artistic sensibility, a real sense for acting as well. He trusts his actors. He doesnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t tell everyone how to act, but heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s there for you if you need help.
Heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s written what I think is a really brilliant, heartfelt script. Certainly, I couldnï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½t imagine anyone else directing it. I actually think the idea came to him in a dream.
BB: Iï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½m interested that he chose Danny DeVito as his dream guru. MF: It really works for me given that he was a victim of ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½dropping outï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ in the ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½60s. He was a slightly countercultural figure. Certainly, hanging around him for a few minutes, you buy that. You believe that. He seems pretty laid back.
BB: You were recently in Dedication with Mandy Moore, who also seems mighty fond of John Krasinski. What is it about you ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½Officeï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ guys? MF: The character of Timï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½or Jimï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½is quite empathetic, no? Heï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s the audienceï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s way into the show. I think it boils down to good, old-fashioned male vulnerability.