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Carol the Dabbler

Martin Freeman's other roles

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Having been asked this on another thread ...
 

... what i found surprisingly cool in this trailer [for the Special] is Martin Freeman looking quite dashing. This man has range!t!

 
You're just now noticing?  :D  But seriously, if you haven't already, do check out some of his other work.

Yes actually :blush2:  To my mind, Martin Freeman has thus far been witty, amiable, blokeish, endearingly angry, and even romantic (and here I'm thinking of the HoB scene where John chats up Dr Mortimer), but dashing - never! That scene of him clicking the pistol made my eyes pop out like Tom the cat's on seeing a pretty female! Which other work of Martin's would you recommend though? Apart from The Office which is yet to captivate my interest, or The Hobbit?

 
... this seems like a good time to start a thread for general discussion of Mr. Freeman's other roles.  In answer to Boswell, here are some (listed in no particular order) where he has impressed me with his range in one way or another.  (I'm assuming you've already seen Sherlock!)

 

Tim Canterbury in The Office:  If you thought John was romantic with Louise Mortimer, you've got to watch The Office, for the Tim-and-Dawn story arc if nothing else.  It's woven throughout the series, with the most delightful outcome at the end of the Christmas Special.

 

Ricky C in Ali G Indahouse:  Ricky is far different from anything else I've ever seen Freeman do -- a punk kid in a suburban gang (let me hasten to point out that it's a comedy).  He even does a rap number!  And Jonathan Aris has a small role, as a reporter.

 

Danny/Veronica in Boy Meets Girl:  Freeman's character Danny accidentally swaps bodies with Veronica.  Unfortunately, we spend far more time with Danny than with Veronica, meaning that Freeman's role is mostly limited to his voice-overs of Danny's thoughts while in Veronica's body.  But what there is of Veronica in Danny's body is just superb.

 

Rembrandt van Rijn in Nightwatching:  I'm not a big fan of "arty" movies, so this isn't one of my favorite Freeman roles.  But it's a chance to see him do bombastic, and he's very moving in certain other scenes, including one that I find highly erotic.

 

Assorted characters in Bruiser:  This was Freeman's first television series (and the one where he first caught Amanda Abbington's eye), a comedy sketch show that only lasted six (half-hour) episodes.  He displays nearly as much range here as in the rest of his career put together (albeit in brief samples, of course).  All of his sketches are available on YouTube.

 

Ed Robinson in The Robinsons:  This is your chance to see Freeman playing a clueless jerk (though admittedly a very nice clueless jerk).  Fairly typical sitcom with some well-drawn interactions among the titular family, six half-hour episodes.  Amanda Abbington has a small recurring role as Ed's ex-wife.

 

Paul Maddens in Nativity!:  This movie is notable (in my mind) for two things: 1) it's basically unscripted -- the director followed an outline, but the details and dialog are all ad-lib; and 2) Freeman does a few tiny bits of singing and dancing, with my favorite ones being when he's coaching a bunch of little kids for their role in the school Nativity play.  (He does somewhat more singing and dancing in Confetti, made by the same director, but I personally think Nativity! is a better film.)

 

Hector Dixon in Wild Target:  Martin Freeman as a gleefully sadistic hit man -- need I say more?  (Well yes, one more thing -- it's a comedy.)  Not one of my top favorites, but enjoyable, and definitely something different for Freeman (unfortunately his role is fairly brief).

 

Lester Nygaard in Fargo (the mini-series):  Freeman's character makes the journey from hen-pecked nebbish to hapless puppet to successful businessman to cold-blooded manipulator.  His face is particularly worth watching as he makes the transitions.  This is a very dark comedy (but not a mean-spirited one -- I hate those).

 

These are all available on DVD, from one Amazon or another.

 

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What? No discussion of shoes? :smile:

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Well, now that you mention it, he does wear some cute little high-heeled pumps in Nightwatching.  Apparently they were all the rage in seventeenth-century Amsterdam.

 

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Arrrghhhhgh!

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Hey, if you don't wanna know, don't ask!  :P

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, :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

You guys always amaze me about stuffs you have seen/known about Sherlock's casts outside Sherlock universe.

Note I say amaze, not jealous. I'm already on the edge of straightjacket.

 

But if you guys want to talk about Martin Freeman's sshoes bring it on!

 

Thee Great Game --> Sherlock sniffing shoes --> 221C Baker Street --> next to 221B Baker Street --> John used to put his shoes there --> John Watson = Martin Freeman.

It's always relevant. XD XD

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Well, now that you mention it, he does wear some cute little high-heeled pumps in Nightwatching.  Apparently they were all the rage in seventeenth-century Amsterdam.

 

:rofl:

...the things actors have to do..

 

I'd just made a mental note to start with Bruisers and then try Nightwatching, but now this mention you made of his shoes is going to stick in my head and make me laugh all the artiness out of it! :lol5:

 

But seriously, I'm a total fan of his acting having only seen Sherlock, I think he is actually a better actor than Cumberbatch, although I must say the types of roles that suit each of them are almost mutually exclusive and so a comparison is not very meaningful.

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I'm a total fan of his acting having only seen Sherlock, I think he is actually a better actor than Cumberbatch, although I must say the types of roles that suit each of them are almost mutually exclusive and so a comparison is not very meaningful.

I'm virtually certain that the only cast member I'd ever seen (or even heard of) before was Wanda Ventham (Mummy Holmes), who was in many of the cool British imports of the 70's.  About ten minutes into "Study in Pink" (on PBS in October 2010), I fell in love with the show as a whole.  But in Series 2 (on DVD in February 2012), something about Martin Freeman's performance really got my attention, and I thought, who is this guy and what else has he been in?  So you're about where I was then.

 

I more or less agree with you on the mutual exclusivity thing.  I'm sure they could play the same nominal roles (e.g., they've both been cast as Richard III), but their characters would be very different.  I would hesitate to say that Freeman is the better actor (that can be a very subjective thing), but he's certainly more the sort of actor that I enjoy watching.  In fact, he's the first actor I've ever followed largely because of his acting per se.  My prior "favorite actors" tended to be in the sorts of things I enjoy watching and/or were people I found attractive.  Both those things are true of Freeman as well, but wow, the man is also one amazing actor!

 

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... But if you guys want to talk about Martin Freeman's sshoes bring it on!

 

Thee Great Game --> Sherlock sniffing shoes --> 221C Baker Street --> next to 221B Baker Street --> John used to put his shoes there --> John Watson = Martin Freeman.

It's always relevant. XD XD

tuzki-bunny-emoticon-048.gif

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But seriously, I'm a total fan of his acting having only seen Sherlock, I think he is actually a better actor than Cumberbatch

I find it actually hard to compare. And I've seen more of CB than Martin so far.

Their acting is so different. I would describe it this way: MF seems to be many different people who share the same body and face, often with the same body language, the "hand-thing" etc., while BC seems to transform into entirely different physicality. I find the second absolutely fascinating. Martin's acting is excellent, as in showing the most complicated and extreme emotions in a subdued, but very moving way.

 

Still, he stays... well, Martin.

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Their acting is so different. I would describe it this way: MF seems to be many different people who share the same body and face, ... while BC seems to transform into entirely different physicality....

In some cases, BC achieves those transformations by gaining/losing a noticeable amount of weight, and I worry about the long-term effects on his health.  I'm just as glad that MF pretty much limits his transformations to simple prosthetics and the occasional homegrown beard.

 

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To my mind the main difference between Martin's & Ben's acting is that Martin's style is more camera-friendly, while Ben's is more suited to the theatre.

 

As Sherlock, for example, Ben's body language is all drama and flair - the swishing of the coat/dressing gown, the lithe swaying of the body, almost dancer-like, when the script probably just said "Sherlock turns around to look at XYZ" or some such prosaic thing. 

As Turing, the vulnerability and pathos in his performance are almost tangible characters by themselves. He seems always to be on some sort of imaginary stage, all bold and effervescent body language that simply cannot be ignored. (which is why such numbers of people thought it a joy to watch him on stage as Hamlet even if it meant sitting through Shakespeare :) )

 

Martin's style OTOH is completely, 100%, natural. Such an unobtrusive presence, you barely take notice until one fine day when you do and then it hits you like a bullet and you go "what an amazing actor", as Carol & I have experienced. His face is among the most expressive i've ever seen on screen, and so I think close-ups work best for him. He makes you observe. His style is all subtlety, like one of those dear everyday things that you don't think you'd miss, until they're gone :)

 

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Martin's style OTOH is completely, 100%, natural. Such an unobtrusive presence, you barely take notice until one fine day when you do and then it hits you like a bullet and you go "what an amazing actor", as Carol & I have experienced. His face is among the most expressive i've ever seen on screen, and so I think close-ups work best for him. He makes you observe. His style is all subtlety....

True -- but his characters are not merely subtle.  They're also very intense.  But of course they're not blatantly intense.  This is after all Martin Freeman we're talking about, so they're subtly intense.  Or maybe they're intensely subtle?  Whatever it is, I love it.

 

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I first saw Martin Freeman in the adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I didn't really notice him until The Office, which I fell in love with and followed through to the (for me surprising) end solely because of Tim, Dawn and Gareth (plus a few minor characters).

 

Originally, I didn't want to watch Sherlock. I was persuaded with the argument: "The guy who played Tim is in it." And the guy who played Tim really was the main thing that impressed me until I got the DVDs with original audio and heard Sherlock speak in his own voice. After that I was done for...

 

I don't think it's possible to really compare Martin Freeman's and Benedict Cumberbatch's talent as actors. Their styles are so different. I agree that Mr C is more "theatrical", but he brings a truthfulness to that which makes me believe in his characters, even when they are as fantastic as Sherlock or Khan. (He even turned Hamlet into a living, breathing human being whose psyche I analyzed all the way home from the movie theater).

 

I think they both have a very distinctive "energy" that infuses all their characters. You can't really forget it's them playing - at least I can't. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's noticeable.

 

In any case, they compliment each other very, very well as Sherlock and John. The series wouldn't work half so well without this particular combination.

 

 

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Thanks a ton, Carol, for introducing me to Bruiser; I've really enjoyed the 3 episodes I've seen so far. Martin Freeman is absolutely mesmerising, and it's amazing to note that all the subtlety in his Sherlock performance was very much there right from the beginning. He really is a complete natural (not a naturist, though, ha ha). His straight face in the Bond sketches is the punchline, I'd start laughing the minute he walks into the frame, and in the Gary-Samantha ones he is so beautifully convincing! I mean, just look at the moment when his hand moves possessively to that string of beads (in his 'gay' act) when Samantha asks him to give them back!

I even liked his American accent. Throughout he is just perfect. 

I wonder if all the uproarious lines in these things were actually scripted or the actors have mostly ad-libbed. 

 

Coincidence: the other actor I really liked in this show was a tall lean chap with curly hair and prominent cheekbones (Robert Webb) :)

 

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another coincidence: This man practically started his TV career shouting the line "I'm not gay"; cut to thirteen years later and the third series of Sherlock, he's doing the same  :lol:

 

The more things change,...

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... Martin Freeman is absolutely mesmerising, and it's amazing to note that all the subtlety in his Sherlock performance was very much there right from the beginning. He really is a complete natural .... in the Gary-Samantha ones he is so beautifully convincing! I
 
I even liked his American accent. Throughout he is just perfect.
 
I wonder if all the uproarious lines in these things were actually scripted or the actors have mostly ad-libbed.

 

Do bear in mind that even in his late 20's, Freeman was an experienced professional, having spent his late teens at a renowned drama school, then worked on stage and television for roughly a decade.  Like a world-class figure skater, he still puts in a lot of hard work to make it all look so easy!

 

Gary is one of my two favorite characters that Freeman does in Bruiser.  He and Olivia Colman (who was also doing her first television series) are both just delightful!  My second favorite has to be the elderly American actor (who I believe is a little further along than you've gotten).  Gary and the actor are beautifully fleshed out, especially considering how little screen time they have.

 

No, I don't believe the show was any sort of improv.  They had a lot of writers (including Ricky Gervais).

 

another coincidence: This man practically started his TV career shouting the line "I'm not gay"....

 

... alternating with insisting that he was gay....

 

Maybe it's a British-television thing?

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Late 20s?? I really should do my research, but I thought he looked about 21 or 22 in this one!

He's got one of those ageless faces that seem to fool time.

 

Oh yes Olivia Colman looked like a worthy screen partner for him. I loved her in that delightful American sketch - "Wor-cest-er-shy-er"  :rofl:

 

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Not sure whether this counts as a "role" or not, but those of you who can actually play Twitter videos these days might enjoy this one.  (I suspect I would!)

 

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Not sure whether this counts as a "role" or not, but those of you who can actually play Twitter videos these days might enjoy this one.  (I suspect I would!)

Thanks, I played it, but I didn't really get it  :(

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  Like a world-class figure skater, he still puts in a lot of hard work to make it all look so easy!

 

 

I think you've hit upon the key to the mystery (in my mind, at least) of why I find Martin to be the better actor: the effort behind Martin's performance is completely invisible to the viewer, because Martin just becomes, rather than enacts, what the script demanded.

And there's a sort of humility about the way he fits himself seamlessly into the framework of the scene, like water taking the shape of the container it's poured into...if that makes any sense.

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Very nicely put!
 
 

Not sure whether this counts as a "role" or not, but those of you who can actually play Twitter videos these days might enjoy this one.  (I suspect I would!)


Thanks, I played it, but I didn't really get it  :(

Have you seen This is Spinal Tap?

 

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No, though I love the name! Just looked it up and it sounds interesting ...don't know when (if) I will get around to watching it though - added to my backlog now. Did spot the connection though.

My immediate next priority is code-named Operation Rembrandt :D

 

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Not sure whether this counts as a "role" or not, but those of you who can actually play Twitter videos these days might enjoy this one.  (I suspect I would!)

Thanks, I played it, but I didn't really get it  :(

Have you seen This is Spinal Tap?

 

No, though I love the name! Just looked it up and it sounds interesting ...don't know when (if) I will get around to watching it though - added to my backlog now. Did spot the connection though.

 

I suspect that you'd need to have seen Spinal Tap (highly recommended in any case!) in order to "get it."  I'll let you know as soon as I'm able to watch the video.  (Probably need to get the IT guy to download a new rev of something.)

 

Looking forward to your views on Night Watching.

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This isn't a new role for Mr. Freeman -- or even an old role.  Ricky Gervais is reprising his "David Brent" role for this movie.  But Brent is now focusing on his career as a would-be rock star, so Martin Freeman's Tim and his co-workers will not be seen, and Office co-creator Stephen Merchant is not involved either.  According to Freeman, he was not even asked to participate, which is fine with him, because he'd rather do something new.

 

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