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The All Together - Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman in The All Together

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MARTIN Freeman talks about appearing in low budget British comedy The All Together, working with Peter Greenaway and his own dream list of future collaborators…

Q. I gather your involvement in The All Together was kind of a happy accident?
Martin Freeman: Kind of, yeah. My partner, Amanda Abbington, went up for it and when she got back I asked how she did. She replied: “Really good and I think you should look at it because there’s a part that you’d be really right for.” So I looked and did really like it. I thought it was very good and went and met Gavin [Claxton, writer-director] and it went from there.

Q. The film was shot in just 18 days. How frantic was that?
Martin Freeman: To be honest, some of the filming felt like a bit of a blur because it was so quick. I was quite ill for some of my shoot because I had a real stinking cold. There’s no denying it was a hard shoot – not hard like being in Bosnia hard! – but it was hard by the standards of making a film.

But that hardship engendered something else that was quite fun too – that Dunkirk spirit and a feeling of: “We’ve just got to do this.” We had to think that none of us were there for any other reason other than we liked the script. And we liked Gavin and believed that it could work. It was a cast that’s quite busy so they didn’t have to be there. None of us thought it was going to make us rich. It was just a good story that was truthfully written with someone’s voice as opposed to to someone’s fear or cynicism about how they can dupe people into going to see it in the middle of America. It’s hard to convey sometimes how much that is a deal in making films: “Is it going to play in America?”

Q. How annoying is that?
Martin Freeman: It’s annoying because they don’t worry about whether something’s going to play in Aldershot. Fair enough, it’s a big place and there’s a lot of money to be made. I understand that. But it’s frustrating sometimes because you tend to think: “Well, when do we make our films?” I know there are people doing it here, such as Shane Meadows, who sticks to his guns and is one of my favourites. But it does get frustrating because sometimes there’s the film we wanted to make but by the time we get to do it, he’s in it, she’s in it even though there’s no reason at all that Tom Cruise should be playing a parish priest – but apparently he is! You wonder where the film went.

Q. In terms of your own career, you seem to be very busy at the moment…
A: Yeah, thank God. It’s nice because I’m about as busy as I want to be. I choose to work or not, which is lovely. I’d like to choose to work more but that would mean liking more scripts and there’s not that many that appeal to me. So that’s what prevents me from working more.

Q. You’ve recently played Rembrandt in a film about the artist directed by Peter Greenaway [called Nightwatching]. How was that?
A: I’ve never had anything like working with Greenaway and I never will again. But what I’ve seen is stunning. I just hope that when you see it you get as much of the story across as I got from reading it. Not all Peter’s stuff is sequential, narrative story. Some of it is like an art installation and I’m not particularly interested in being in an art installation to be honest. I’m interested in the story and it was a story.

So I hope that it’s intact when I see the film properly – that there is a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes that can easily be overlooked for the sake of cleverness. But story, for me, is really, really important whether it’s Red Riding Hood or The Godfather. Everything else has to defer to that.

Q. If you had a list of directors you’d like to work with, who’d be on it?
A: Well over here I’d like to work with Meadows, Loach, Leigh. I’ve worked with Edgar Wright now. Spike Lee I like. He’s got a bit more mainstream as he’s got older and a bit less interesting. But whether you agree with the polemics of his older films or not, it’s good that they’re there. I like that “f**k you” attitude.

There’s also never been a better film than the first two Godfathers, so I’d love to work with Coppola. I’d also like to work with his daughter because I think she’s f**king serious, really serious. But I think there are a lot of people. I met Frank Oz last year and really liked him. He’s a really lovely director as well. Spielberg’s not bad at all [laughs].

There are always people around who inspire you through their films and there are loads of others I don’t think about in this list who when I see them later I’ll think: “Why didn’t I say him or her?” But I do think it has to start with the subject matter. That’s what would interest me… although if Francis Ford Coppola came to me and said he’d like me to be the lead in his film and I looked at the script and it wasn’t the best one I’d ever read, I’d probably still go: “Yeah, alright Francis…”

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