“It’s not like do­ing Kafka’s

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

Some­times, I speak to my mis­sus and say: ‘Yeah, my child­hood does sound very Dick­en­sian.’ But we were very loved. My par­ents were civil with each other and those things are the most im­por­tant.”

Like so many suc­cess­ful ac­tors, Free­man cred­its his ca­reer to one im­por­tant men­tor. A drama teacher named Eric Yardley lured him to­wards a youth the­atre in Ted­ding­ton and taught him all the rudi­ments of act­ing.

“He died re­cently and I am al­ways happy to give him credit when I can,” Free­man re­marks.

Though he didn’t achieve any class of fame un­til the new cen­tury, Martin was never out of work for long. Fol­low­ing train­ing at Cen­tral Col­lege of Speech and Drama, he was rapidly pro­pelled into the Na­tional The­atre and has ploughed away ever since. He claims – some­what apolo­get­i­cally – that he has only ever been out of work through his own choice.

The Of­fice was a strange beast. What­ever else you might say about it, you couldn’t rea­son­ably claim it was a cre­ation of the hype ma­chine. Launched with no fan­fare on BBC2 in 2001, the slip­pery com­edy slowly evolved into a word-of-mouth phe­nom­e­non. One won­ders if the cast and crew knew they had some­thing spe­cial.

“You can’t guess those things,” he says. “As


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