Martin Freeman on First ‘Sherlock’ Audition: ‘They Thought I Was a Moody Prick’

EDINBURGH — Martin Freeman has revealed how his first audition to play Doctor Watson in the BBC’s “Sherlock” didn’t go according to plan.

Interviewed at the Edinburgh Television Festival, the British star revealed that he had to be invited back for a second audition before he was offered the part opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in one of the most successful TV series of recent times.

“I had to do two auditions before I got the role,” he recalled to interviewer Mark Lawson. “My agent told me they hated me and thought I was a moody prick. … I went back again and read with Ben.”

The rest, as they say, is TV history. Or not quite. Because the original “Sherlock” pilot was rejected and had to be reshot as a 90-minute episode.

“It seemed a bit, silly, but happily I was extremely wrong,” said Freeman, who had landed his first TV role about 15 years earlier on the British cop show “The Bill.”

“I wasn’t very good in it, I wasn’t very good at being in front of the camera,” Freeman remembered. “But it was not a bad first attempt.”

He remembered how he’d been given a grant to attend London stage school, something which would be very rare today when austerity means students have to be self-funding.

He said it concerned him very much that people from ordinary British suburban backgrounds like his would “be unlikely” to attend acting schools today due to financial constraints.

Freeman, who supports the U.K. Labour Party, subsequently got his big break in the original version of “The Office,” co-starring as Tim — a part that got him noticed in Hollywood.

“‘The Office’ was a big open door because every f—er watched it,” Freeman said.

He knew instinctively it was a funny show, despite the lack of either a laughter track or traditional jokes.

“After ‘The Office,’ people thought I was a stand-up comedian, but I’ve always wanted to be a decent actor who can be funny, rather than a comedian.”

Avoiding type-casting, Freeman seems equally at home as Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit,” on stage as Richard III and in acclaimed TV roles like “Sherlock” or “Fargo.”

Asked if there was any difference in acting in feature films, compared with TV, Freeman said the two disciples were identical.

In both mediums “you have to convince the audience that this moment in really happening.”

As for working on American TV, Freeman said the big shift was the speed in production schedules.

“When I did ‘Fargo,’ I couldn’t believe how quickly they make quality TV. An episode was done in seven or eight days. There’s a great organizational skill to be able to do that.

“Otherwise it’s the same … the same tribulations, the same discomforts.”

There was another big difference that did not impact on him. Asked about diversity by an Edinburgh delegate, Freeman recalled Idris Elba telling him that he was going to work in the U.S. because of the lack of parts for black actors in the U.K. TV and film biz.

“There is a different ceiling there (in the U.S.) … I can’t be any more profound than that.”

Freeman said getting the part of Bilbo in “The Hobbit” enabled him to effectively walk into “Fargo.”

“I guess it wouldn’t have happened the way it did without ‘The Hobbit,’” he said. “Without it, I would have had to jump through some hoops.”

However, there’s a downside to being part of a Hollywood franchise. “If I want to go out and buy a pint of milk it takes an hour,” he said, because he’s constantly recognized.

“It’s not terrible, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite thing in the world. … People don’t go into acting for the fame, they do it because they like the work.”

Related storiesShowtime’s David Nevins: Shows Must Reflect U.S. Diversity‘Sherlock’s’ Beryl Vertue to Be Honored at Edinburgh TV Festival

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Adventures of super awkward Shepard!
  • Shepard:*skulking around the elevator, near the mess hall*
  • Tali:Shepard, what are you doing?
  • Shepard:Ah! Woah, you made me jump.
  • Tali:Sorry. I think.
  • Shepard:Lunch will be any second now and Thane sits right there. Always the same spot but he feels jumpy about having his back to the entrance. He told me so himself.
  • Tali:Okay... And?
  • Shepard:I'm going to scare the fuck out of him. Just, just grab him from around this bend here when he's in the middle of eating.
  • Tali:So, your plan is to scare the highly trained assassin?
  • Shepard:Yes.
  • Tali:I think I'll stay and watch.
  • The crew:*grabs their lunch and sits in the mess hall*
  • Shepard, whispering:See, Tali? Right there.
  • Shepard:*grabs Thane's shoulder*
  • Shepard:BOO!
  • Thane:*twists Shepard's arm and launches them across the table*
  • Shepard:Shit!
  • Shepard:*skids down the table, launching everyone's food in the air and slamming into Grunt*
  • Grunt:Grahhhh!
  • Grunt:*flips table in surprised anger*
  • Table:*knocks Kasumi out*
  • Mordin:Attempting neural shock to calm krogan!
  • Grunt:*charges Mordin*
  • Grunt:*throws Jacob to floor while charging*
  • Grunt:*crashes through med-bay window, tackling Mordin*
  • Tali:This is worse than I'd imagined it to be.
  • Legion:*opens AI core's door*
  • Legion:We would like to attempt to socialise-
  • Jack:Yes! A great big fight!
  • Jack:*throws Zaeed into Garrus*
  • Garrus:Crap!
  • Legion:*closes AI core's door*
  • Samara:Shepard!
  • Samara:*attempts to protect Shepard with biotics*
  • Jack:*counters Samara's biotics*
  • Mess hall:*explodes from unstable biotics*
  • -
  • Shepard:Ugh, what happened?
  • Miranda:You're an idiot is what happened.
  • Shepard:*looks around from their med-bay bed*
  • Everyone:*glaring at Shepard from within their bandage bundles*

commandercrouton asked:

I heard rumors James and Maggie broke up earlier in the year because James cheated on her with Mandy Moore??? Please tell me it's just an ugly rumor

James and Maggie have broken up, but no one knew about it until it was announced that Maggie was engaged (and that was announced a week before she got married). No one knew because they were SUCH a private couple. So any information beyond the fact that they’re broken up are definitely just rumors. Could rumors be true? Sure. Does it mean that it IS true? Not at all. We’ll probably never find out so try not to stress about it.

(BTW: If someone has credible proof about anything related to their relationship, feel free to send it my way)

source: pussyvonweinermuff

And I definitely get a butch vibe from Erin and especially Alyssa.

That is the gayest family  have ever seen.

tovag said:

 Very true. I’ve noticed that myself. The Bates are some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen.

sienaeats said: 

Erin is like the femmest femme that ever femmed.

freejoyanna SAID:

Eh, I just think it’s the sexual repression making itself known in different ways.

wesayso-foundation said:

I cannot believe the emails I have gotten about this.

So people really believe I meant this? And one of those emails came from a reader who has the word sarcasm in their title!

pussyvonweinermuff said: 

I stand by it lol- I’m like 87%