Where to find Martin Freeman on streaming platforms in South Africa
To say Martin Freeman is a versatile actor is something of an understatement. British-born Freeman began his film and television career in earnest in the late 1990s and his roles have ranged from comedy to fantasy to drama, winning him Emmy, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards along the way, plus a Golden Globe nomination.
Freeman is one of those actors who mostly seems to fly under the radar but when you begin delving into his filmography, you soon learn he’s appeared in lots of things you have forgotten. For example, he played the porn body double in Love, Actually in 2003.
He was in the original British version of The Office, created by Ricky Gervais.
In the hilarious zombie apocalypse spoof Shaun of the Dead in 2004, he had not a line, but one word.
More recently, Freeman was in Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War and you’ll most likely recognise him more immediately and clearly in this roundup of titles from the past decade or so.
This is Freeman’s most recent work, in a genre much-loved by the British viewing public: loosely, police. A Confession is based on a true story and Freeman’s character, DS Steve Fulcher, is real. Fulcher went against protocols to catch a killer and in doing so, ruined his reputation and his career.
“Martin Freeman plays Fulcher with quiet authority, digging deeper into himself with every twist of the case,” says The Guardian, in its review titled “a profoundly sad drama about suffering, strength and justice”.
New episodes land on DStv every Monday.
Based on the short film of the same name and by the same creators and directors, Cargo is set in Australia, where a virus that turns people rabid has taken over. Comparisons to 2021 will be allowed.
Freeman plays Andy, who must protect his infant daughter at all costs. Says Roger Ebert: “Just when you think the zombie genre has no new stories to tell, along comes the heartbreaking Aussie undead drama…anchored by another wonderfully committed performance from Martin Freeman.”
Rhymes with Cargo, but that’s where the similarities end. Fargo, the brilliant Coen Brothers movie, spawned an anthology series of which the first three seasons are on Showmax, with new episodes of Season 4 arriving weekly.
Freeman stars as Lester Nygaard (and the narrator) in Season 1, which is still quite possibly the best.
Set in Minnesota and North Dakota, in the snowy blizzards we know from the movie, the season won multiple awards. Lester is a mild-mannered and rather useless insurance salesman whose life takes a distinct turn for the worse when malevolent drifter Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) arrives in town…
“Freeman is superb – confused and endearing as Lester, he has always been very good as the Everyman’s Everyman,” says Radio Times.
Hot Fuzz (Amazon Prime)
Like Shaun of the Dead, this 2007 movie was written by Edgar Wright (who directed both) and Simon Pegg (who appeared in both). Therefore, the logical conclusion is that if you enjoyed one, you’ll like the other one too (and will be privy to inside jokes and references). It’s not a very scientific theory, but it is accurate.
Pegg plays a hotshot London cop who gets promoted, but his jealous colleagues arrange to have him sent to a small town, which was anything but quiet and crime-free. Until now.
Freeman is but one of many in a brilliant ensemble cast: Olivia Colman, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton…and a string of uncredited cameos include Cate Blanchett.
Freeman plays Dr Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in this 13-episode (movie length) four-season series that has numerous awards and accolades, and is set in present-day London rather than author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian era.
In the old days, when Graham Norton had guests on his red couch, Cumberbatch and Freeman chatted about the series.
“Adapting a classic novel and making it contemporary and relevant whilst managing to capture the essence of what made the original so appealing is something many shows and films struggle to achieve nowadays,” says The Review Geek. “Steven Moffat’s modern adaptation of Sherlock is one that bucks the trend, nailing the feel and authenticity of the book, helped along by a natural chemistry between the two lead characters, John Watson and Sherlock Holmes.”
Startup (Amazon Prime)
This series is about three people – strangers and unlikely partners – who plan a tech revolution with crypto currency, which may or may not be entirely above board, with the actual real currency being used to finance it having come from somewhere dodgy.
Here, Freeman plays a corrupt FBI agent who will stop at nothing to bring them down. There are three seasons and names to look out for are Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hell Boy) and Mira Sorvino (Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion).
You won’t see Freeman in this one but you’ll hear his voice. Stick Man has a wonderful local link: it was animated in Cape Town by Triggerfish Animation Studios, in collaboration with Magic Light Pictures.
The adaptation of the bestselling picture book by children’s author-and-illustrator team Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Stick Man won several awards. If you enjoy this, then check out Donaldson and Scheffler’s other adaptations on Showmax: The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo’s Child.
Freeman voices Stick Man, with Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as Santa and Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) as the narrator of this charming and magical story about a piece of wood called Stick Man who ends up on a grand adventure as he tries his best to get home to his stick family (in the family tree, of course) in time for Christmas.
At some point, you will come across the phrase “best known for” in relation to Freeman. It’s completely subjective of course, but if we’re to pick out the biggest blockbuster titles in his career, then The Hobbit trilogy will surely be the winner. Even more so for Freeman playing the main hobbit of the title, Bilbo Baggins. His towering five-foot-seven stature served him well here.
Three years (2012-2014) and three movies (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle Of The Five Armies) turned JRR Tolkien’s slim volume about a stolen ring and a dragon into an adventure of epic proportions in the hands of Peter Jackson.
A bit much? Perhaps. But still required and recommended viewing for film fans, and although shot and released the other way around, it will prepare you for the behemoth that is The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.