From 'Hobbit' to 'Captain America': Martin Freeman Talks About Franchise Roles

Martin Freeman - H 2015
AP Images

Martin Freeman - H 2015

"It's rare in an actor's life to do films that you know people will see," he says.

British actor Martin Freeman traveled to Southern Italy to receive a Giffoni Experience Award at the Giffoni Film Festival, the largest festival in Europe for kids and teens, which wrapped on Sunday. The Emmy and BAFTA-award winning actor met with press and with young jury members to discuss his life and career.

Freeman has had key roles in a variety of franchise series, including the lead role of Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit trilogy, the role of accidental murderer Lester Nygaard in the Fargo TV series, Watson in the successful BBC show Sherlock, and the role of an ambiguous government official in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War.

He takes no credit, however, for the success of the widely popular films and TV shows he stars in. “It’s definitely nothing to do with me. It's only my responsibility to hold up my bit of the boat,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. He referred to Captain America as, “a juggernaut that's been on the road for many years, and will be for many years more, with or without me.”

“It's rare in an actor's life to do films that you know people will see,” he said of his slate of work. “Whether they like it or not is another thing, but you know they will see it, right? So I've been lucky in the last few years that I've done things that I know there is an audience for. It is kind of weird, because it does seem totally by accident that I am going into these big things.”

Freeman admits that he’s not signing up to be a superhero just yet, but he wouldn’t rule it out. “Since Iron Man, I guess the model for who can play a superhero has changed. Because it's gotten more actor-based now, as opposed to gymnasium, model based, if you know what I mean,” he said.

“Because all the people in those Marvel films are proper actors, good, serious actors,” he continued. “I don't know what my super power would be, but yeah, as always, if it's well-written and if it seems fun and the lunches are good, then I'd be in for that.”

The actor, who previously called himself “geek royalty,” believes that often fans can drive the best stories. “To a certain extent, Hollywood began — and I guess every film industry in the world began — with people who are very, very obsessive and single-minded. Otherwise, an industry wouldn't happen,” he said. “I think things seem to have gone more that way, on a certain level, you know, like basically the kids who read comics when I was at school, a lot of those people are now in very good jobs in film production. As long as mankind is telling each other stories and we're listening, that is what's important, really.”

Freeman can next be seen in the upcoming Christmas special for Sherlock. He claims the biggest pain of shooting in the Victorian era was wearing a huge fake moustache. “It’s good fun, until you want to eat,” he said. “And then it's annoying.”

He also has no issue with joining forces with his compatriots, Judi Dench, Daniel Craig and J.K. Rowling, who recently sent a letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron not to reform the creative and financial structure of the BBC.

“There's no question that the BBC of course is not perfect,” he said. “But I'm fiercely proud — I think most British people, conservatives or left or whatever they are, would see the BBC as the best value tax we've got in Britain. You show me better television comedy than on the BBC, I'll give you a million pounds. You can't do it. Nature programs, documentaries — If it's a fight between the BBC and the British Conservative Party, there's no contest as to whose side I'm on.”

He’ll also be in Paramount’s Fun House in which Tina Fey stars as journalist Kim Barker recalling her time covering wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Freeman, it’s not just a war story. “It's about expat, mainly British and European, American and Australian ex-patriots, as reporters and journalists,” he said, “finding themselves in this crazy place, where everyone goes mad, as people do in times of war, when you're living that close to death and you're sleeping with people, you're taking drugs, you're doing lots of things because you think any day might be your last day, which is kind of what happens, I guess.”

The film is slated for a 2016 release.