Martin Freeman: ‘I’m one of few people in my family who would ever unironically go into a church’

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The Guardian

I was academically quite unengaged at school. I was a smartass and spent a lot of time in detention for petty things. I really do wish I’d applied myself a bit more.

I’m not a practising Catholic, but I still like popping into churches to offer one up, light a candle, do all that stuff. I’m certainly one of the only people in my family who would ever unironically go into a church.

I was into politics at a young age. It’s not like at 10 I was recording Question Time on the VHS. It was more the music I was listening to. I loved two-tone – politics via Linton Kwesi Johnson. I was a little lefty, but with more passion than rigour, more into the T-shirts and badges than trying to think up a transport policy.

I played squash from nine and had a real natural aptitude, so I assumed I’d be a squash player, but then I fell out of love with it. I was worried that 14 was quite old not to know what I wanted to do.

Turning 50 seems quite serious. There’s no way around it. It’s grown up. I can’t believe how old I am. In my head I’m still 14 or 16. So it’s always a bit of a shock when you see the numbers rack up or an unflattering photograph. But it’s so much better than the alternative. I’ll take it.

I’ve looked in the mirror a lot since I was a kid. I just find it fascinating. It’s not because I think I’m gorgeous. Sometimes I’ll look and think: “I’m looking right. This looks OK.” Then other days I think: “Jesus Christ, what’s happened there?”

The dream used to be that people shouted more than one thing at me in the street. There was a time when I thought: “Shit. Am I going to be Tim from The Office until I’m 60?” I don’t think I’ve ever been called Bilbo or John Watson.

I don’t objectively think I’m horrible, but because I became known to the public for a certain performance, I suppose I always want to prepare people to be disappointed if you think that’s all you’re going to get. I reserve the right to be difficult if people just expect me to be nice and cuddly.

Working in America, I didn’t want to be the Englishman who couldn’t drive. They wouldn’t find it charming. They’d find it like an illness. So I learned in a week, then a week later I was driving on the wrong side of the road in snow in Canada.

Do I cry? I’ll tear up watching or listening to something. It’s more rare that I’d really go for it and have a huge cry. But getting choked up is quite common.

I have real friends, some of whom might be famous. I’m friendly with people who are creative because I suppose I know more creative people than I know accountants. Although my accountant’s pretty creative. No, don’t write that, Jesus Christ!

All episodes of Breeders are available on Sky Comedy and streaming service NOW

July 16, 2022 at 06:55PM Rich Pelley

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