Interview with Martin Freeman of "Fargo" on FX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

The TV MegaSite, Inc.  TV Is Our Life!

Click here to help fight hunger!
Fight hunger and malnutrition.
Donate to Action Against Hunger today!


MainNewsReviewsOur ShowsEpisode GuidesBuy!CommunityPolls
AutographsPhotosWallpapersPuzzles & GamesLinksStarsVideosOther

Primetime  Articles & Interviews Page

We Love TV!

This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection to any shows or networks.

Please click here to vote for our site!
Click Here to Visit!

By Suzanne

Martin Freeman

Interview with Martin Freeman of "Fargo" on FX 4/9/14

It was really awesome to speak with Mr. Freeman because I'm a huge fan of his show "Sherlock" and his work in that, and of course the Hobbit movies!!  He's very down-to-earth and spoke to us in his lovely accent, of course. He was very kind and thoughtful when answering our questions. He does a fabulous job in the FX miniseries "Fargo", too.  By the way, I've now interviewed both "Frodo" and "Bilbo" so I'm very excited!

Final Transcript
April 10, 2014/10:00 a.m. PDT


Adriana Lemus / Director, Media Relations, FX Networks
Martin Freeman / ďLester Nygaard,Ē Fargo


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Fargo conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. We will conduct a question and answer session. The call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Miss Adriana Lemus. Please go ahead.

Adriana Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Fargo conference call with Martin Freeman, who plays ďLester Nygaard.Ē Weíd like to thank everyone for joining us today and remind you that this call is for print purposes only. No audio may be used. Due to the high number of journalists on the line, we respectfully request that you limit yourself to only one question at a time and then get back into queue for any follow-ups that you have.

As a reminder, Fargo debuts Tuesday, April 15th at 10:00 p.m. on FX. And with that said, Iíll open it up to questions.

Moderator Our first question is from the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFiVision. Please go ahead.

Jamie Hi, Martin. Thanks so much for doing the call.

Martin Hello, no worries.

Jamie So, what attracted you to this part? I mean, itís a really cool role, but what specifically?

Martin Well, just the fact that itís well written. The script itself is well written, the whole thing, the whole first episode, which is what I based my decision on. It was a lovely episode. And with ďLesterĒ I just got the feeling that this was going to be a role where you could give rein to a lot of stuff, to play a lot of stuff.

And even within that first episode the range that he goes between is really interesting and so I knew that was only going to grow and expand in the next nine episodes, and so it proved to be. In all the 10 episodes I get to play as ďLesterĒ pretty much the whole gamut of human existence and human feeling, you know, he does the whole lot.

And thatís exactly what you want to do as an actor. And Noah [Hawley] treads that line very well between drama and comedy and the light and dark. And I like playing that stuff. So, yeah, it was all of that really.

Jamie Great. Well, Iíve seen the first four episodes and I really love it so far.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And our next question is from the line of Steve Eramo with SciFiTV Talk.

Steve Hi, Martin. A pleasure to speak with you today.

Martin Hi. Can you hear me?

Steve Yes, no problem at all. I hope you can hear me.

Martin I can.

Steve Martin, I wondered if you could tell us a little bit about how you sort of see your characterís relationship with Billy Bob Thorntonís character in the show and maybe how it developed over the 10 episodes, if you donít mind.

Martin Well, yeah, again it was those initial scenes with Billy that really, really attracted me to doing the role because I thought they were just mesmeric. I really loved those little, it was like little plays doing it, little two-handed plays. It develops kind of, without kind of saying too much, it develops a lot off-screen. There are moments of on-screen development, but throughout the series itís sporadic. Letís say that, itís sporadic.

But ďLorne Malvo,Ē I suppose, is a constant presence in ďLesterísĒ life because of the change that ďLesterĒ has undergone as a result of meeting him. So, everything that ďLesterĒ does, every way that he develops as a character, for good and bad, you could say is kind of down to that initial meeting with ďLorne Malvo.Ē

So, there is a development. We donít get as much screen time as I would like. I think we both really, really loved sharing actual space together and doing work together and we donít get to do as much of that as we would want, but there is more to come.

Moderator And our next question is from the line of Charles Webb,

Charles Good morning, Martin.

Martin Hi.

Charles One of the interesting things that Billy Bob was saying about your characters in the show is that he kind of had to expand his ego a little bit to play ďLorne,Ē and you kind of had to, I guess, bury your personality a little bit to play ďLester.Ē Can you talk about that a little bit?

Martin To a certain, yeah. To a certain extent. Yes, Iím a more confident person than ďLesterĒ is and Iím not quite as upset as that. So, yeah, itís just about tapping into those insecurities that you have, we all have, and just kind of magnifying them a little bit. And I find that stuff interesting to play.

I find it fun to play if you can do it for real because, obviously, itís not shot documentary style or anything, but you want it to be real. You want it to really resonate even though itís within a heightened world. Noahís writing is extremely good and itís slightly heightened as well, rather like the Coen Brothers.

So, yeah, basically to answer your question I think I did have to slightly rein my gigantic ego in for a while.

Moderator And our next question is from the line of Amy Amantangelo with Paste Magazine.

Amy Hi, Martin. Thanks so much for talking with us today.

Martin Youíre welcome.

Amy I was just wondering how your understanding of ďLesterĒ changed over the course of filming the series because when we meet him heís one thing, but then a series of events happens even in the pilot that makes him become another thing.

So, for you, how did your core understanding of him change from when you kind of first started playing him to where he ends up?

Martin Well, you have to go a lot on trust, really, because, again, I signed up just on the strength of the first episode. I kind of saw a rough character outline that Noah wrote, but it wasnít specific and it wasnít detailed. It was a general idea of where he wanted to go with it. He certainly knew a lot more than I did and he knew a lot more than he was telling me and he was quite careful with what he leaked out, do you know what I mean?

So, I wouldnít really have any particular clues as to what was coming. So, we would all get kind of drip fed the scripts when he was ready to show them to us and when he had finished them. Like all writers, he didnít want to show anything until he was absolutely happy with it. And so I would get each of the scripts and it was all pretty much a surprise.

The stuff that ďLesterĒ would be doing, I mean unless Noah had kind of hinted at something, which was rare, it was all a surprise. So, I would read episode four and go, oh my God, that happens. And then Iíd read episode five and think, wow, I didnít see that coming.

So, it was all a surprise and so in that sense you have to just be ready to go with it and not make too many decisions, not pre-prepare, not prepare too much and just be open and just be ready to move in whichever direction this character is going to go in because you, as the actor, donít dictate it, thatís for sure. It was all at Noahís command as a writer.

And I kind of liked that, I liked that surprise. Because itís when youíre not in charge and when you donít really know whatís going to happen that youíre pushed. You allow yourself to be really, really pushed and challenged and stretched, which is all those things actors want to have.

So, yeah, your understanding kind of evolves the more you read because, obviously, by the end of episode 10 ďLesterĒ was capable of things that you never would have suspected in episode one. So, you have to just be on the ball and be ready to move at a momentís notice.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Amy Gustafson, St. Paul Pioneer. Please go ahead.

Amy Hey there.

Martin Hi.

Amy Did you do anything specific, like any specific research about Minnesota or Minnesotans in preparation to play ďLesterĒ?

Martin Not specifically, no. Ideally, what I would have wanted to do was spend some time there pre-filming because what I wanted to do was not, definitely not do a caricature and definitely not do something that was just comic or a way of going, oh, arenít these people funny kind of thing.

So, in an ideal world I would have spent a couple of weeks hanging out in bars or just speaking to people. The ideal world doesnít exist and I wasnít able to do that. But I worked very hard on the accent because, as I said, I didnít want it to be like a comedy sketch. I wasnít playing an accent. I was playing a character who happened to speak like that and to be from that place.

So, not specific research. I listened to a lot of Minnesotans, put it that way. I listened to a lot of actual Minnesotans in an audio sense, I mean a visual sense. Thatís why I didnít really go back and watch the initial film with Fargo, love it as I do, because I wanted to, for my research of accent-wise, I wanted it to be actual Minnesotans and not actors playing Minnesotans. Any more than I would expect an actor who wants to play a Minnesotan should study me. They shouldnít study me, they should study a Minnesotan.

So, that was the kind of extent of my homework on that. So, rather than thinking what is it that makes Minnesotans different or specific or whatever, I think ďLesterĒ is pretty universal. There are ďLestersĒ everywhere in every race and walk of life and country. There are people who are sort of downtrodden and people who are underconfident and all that, so that was more a case of tapping into that in myself really.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Diana Price with The Examiner. Please go ahead.

Diana Thanks for speaking with us today, Martin.

Martin No problem.

Diana I wanted to ask, because even though this is a different cast of characters in the TV series as opposed to the film, I do hear a lot of people kind of comparing your character to William H. Macyís in the film. Did that kind of put some pressure on you because heís such an amazing actor, but also to distinguish your character from his?

Martin Yeah, again, the reason I didnít go back and watch Fargo was because I didnít really want that in my head, either way. I didnít want it my head to copy or to consciously differ from. Because as soon as you try and differ yourself from someone, youíre becoming too conscious of that performance anyway.

So, no, I didnít feel pressure in that way. Youíre quite right, heís a brilliant actor and the world doesnít need another actor doing a Bill Macy impression and I donít need to be doing that and he doesnít need it and all of that. So, I purely treated it as my performance of a different character, albeit with some comparison. There are some parallels, but I was too busy concentrating on what I was doing with ďLesterĒ really. At the risk of protesting too much, I know Iím not playing that.

Itís not a case of literally playing that part and how am I going to make it different from Macyís performance. I didnít rewatch the film because I didnít really want that comparison in my head, although I understand it.

Moderator And we go to the line of Greg David with TV Guide Canada.

Greg Hey, Martin. Thanks for taking the time today.

Martin Youíre welcome.

Greg Yesterday we were talking to Billy Bob Thornton and he was talking about the way that he carried himself and did the piercing eyes to make ďMalvoĒ a villain. And I noticed in the first couple episodes, ďLester,Ē you make him seem very small. He kind of liked to physically shrink. Can you talk a little about that, making the character appear that way on screen?

Martin Iíd love to. It would make me sound impressive if I could talk about it. Itís not, particularly, a conscious thing. I know the way I want him to feel and I know the way I feel when Iím playing him. Like a couple of people said that to me, itís like, how do you physically shrink? And I wasnít aware of doing that.

I was aware of, you always give someone a walk, you always develop a walk and a gait and then just a way that you carry yourself. So, I was aware of that. You know, his shoulders were slightly rounded, and he doesnít move his arms and swagger around much when he walks. Heís very, very contained and he doesnít kind of, unconsciously, he sort of doesnít want to be noticed by the world.

But beyond that, I just knew the way that I felt. I knew the way I felt when I sort of embodied him and when I was speaking those lines and reacting to people. You know, Iím a big believer in my job just being reacting, do you know what I mean? And the way that the world treats Lester, it gives you a big clue of how to play him.

So, I wasnít kind of compartmentalizing and now Iím going to this and now Iím going to do that. It felt like just a holistic thing of as soon as you are Lester, you just kind of react in that way. It takes you over, really, rather than you making impositions on it. So, yes, I wish I could speak better about that, but I canít.

Greg Okay. Well, how about a question about Calgary. What was it like shooting there? I hear it was a little bit cold.

Martin Yes, it is. Itís a little bit cold for quite a long time. Very beautiful and I love the cold until it started to get warm and then get cold again and then that was annoying. As soon as you think spring is coming and then there is a blizzard, thatís the only time it vaguely annoyed me. All the time it was winter and it was allowed to be winter I thought, yeah, this is cool, this is a Calgary winter.

Itís white and beautiful and nice and cold. But as soon as it lures you into thinking oh, great, Iíll put a lighter jacket on now and then you find yourself as Scott of the Antarctic, then that was when it got old.

Moderator And we move to the line of Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times. Please go ahead.

Michelle Hey, Martin.

Martin Hello.

Michelle Iíve been a big fan of yours since Love Actually and The Office and now Sherlock. And I notice that you seem to play those timid sort of straight main characters really well.

Martin Well, Sherlock is not timid. ďJohn WatsonĒ is not timid.

Michelle Well, yes, thatís true.

Martin I think that reaction to my work a lot of time is Pavlovian and not actually based on; I mean, Iíve played a few of those, but I think people a lot of the time see that itís me playing it and thatís the connection they make, do you know what I mean? Because Iím not playing a Frenchman with a hump, whereas actually ďTimĒ from The Office ainít the same as Sherlock, which ainít the same ďBilbo Baggins.Ē But, carry on, please. And Iím not offended.

Moderator And we move to the line of Suzanne.

Martin No, no, no. Can we go back, because she hadnít finished her question. I interrupted her.

Moderator Okay, if she will press star one again weíll open her line.

Michelle Hello?

Martin Hi.

Michelle So, I was going to ask, what was it like being able to kind of, ďLesterĒ is like that on the surface sort of, but then he definitely taps into a darker side. What was it like for you to get to explore that, especially as the series goes on?

Martin That was great. That was a big attraction of doing it, that was one of the major attractions of playing this role. I like, as much as I can, to play everything and by that I just mean I think within one line of dialogue you can play three different things, within one non-speaking reaction shot you can play three different things.

And Iíve always liked to sort of do that, not to just play the one thing. I like to play, try and reflect the complexities of how we are in real life, which is weíre always thinking at least two things at the same time. So, certainly the overt dark side of ďLesterĒ was something very attractive to me. Yes, while I disagreed with you, youíre right. People certainly donít associate me with being a sort of murderous killer.

Michelle Sure, and when they see you as the actor playing him they may not jump to that immediately.

Martin Well, yes, exactly. So, it was a yeah. And, of course, you want to do different things and you want to challenge peopleís perceptions of you and you want to challenge your own work and your own perceptions of what it is you do, because itís very easy to, sometimes you believe your own reviews and you go, oh, maybe I am an everyman. And I think, actually, no, thatís bullshit. I know Iím not.

So, itís nice to give yourself and audience a reminder of just a different flavor. I loved doing that with ďLester.Ē

Michelle Awesome, thanks.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator We will now open the line of Suzanne Lanoue with TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Hi, itís an honor to speak with you because I really love Sherlock.

Martin Thank you very much.

Suzanne I was wondering, could you speak at all to working with Billy Bob and Colin-I donít know if youíve had a chance to actually work with Colin [Hanks] in the episodes that you did?

Martin Well, I didnít work with Colin, unfortunately. I really like him as a man, Iím very fond of him. And Iíve gotten to know him a little bit and heís a straight up lovely bloke. Yeah, I just really like him. And I did immediately. I think heís ever so good in the program as well. I like his work a lot.

I did work with Billy, not as much as I would have wanted because the first thing I shot with him was the scene in the emergency room. And it was just a pleasure, it was just a pleasure from the get-go. From the moment, we had a line run and then rehearsed it. You see for the scene thereís not a lot of blocking, thereís not a lot of choreography to do, but just sitting there doing it with a fantastic actor and who Iíve long admired was an absolute joy.

And heís a real, real pleasure as a man as well. I like spending the limited amount of time Iíve spent with him. And I think Iím right in saying both of us kind of wanted to do more of it together because it just instantly clicked. It was very, very easy. We had a good chemistry together I think. It certainly felt that way anyway.

So, yeah, Iím a big fan of his. Iím a bigger fan of his than I was before, having met him. I think heís great.

Suzanne Thank you. I enjoyed the four episodes.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And weíll open the line of Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl Hi, Martin. How are you today?

Martin Iím good, thank you, yeah.

Earl I have to say Iíve had the honor of seeing the first four episodes and I have to say your performance is incredible.

Martin Thank you very much.

Earl I loved it a lot. Of course, youíve done a lot of film and youíve done a lot of television. As an actor, do you have a preference? Is there a big difference creatively? What are your feelings about it?

Martin I donít really see a big difference ostensibly between film and TV, given that my job is basically the same. My job is to work with the camera and focus your performance for a camera. Now, whether thatís on a film or TV I think, especially these days, is kind of immaterial.

Because as the best television gets more and more what we would call filmic and a lot of the best writing I think has been pretty much acknowledged for 10 years has been on television, I think thereís much less of a differentiation now than there was maybe 20, 30 years ago. And so I donít have a preference.

I mean, it sounds trite to say, but my only preference is good work. I mean I always want to do good work. I strive to do scripts that I believe in and scripts that I think are either funny or moving or tragic or all of them. So, no, for me thereís not really much of a difference. Itís about, I mean thereís a difference in tone of different things, but I donít see between television; I treat Sherlock and Fargo exactly as I would...

Earl The Hobbit.

Martin Yeah, absolutely. But also, if Iím doing a radio play I treat that the same as The Hobbit, just because there isnít a pecking order in my mind, do you know what I mean?

Earl Yeah, exactly.

Martin If you want to be doing the job then you want to be doing it and youíve got to give the best you can. And within that, then itís just a question of budgets and sometimes thereís posher food on some things than others, posher trailers, but the actual work in front of the camera, no. I donít really see much of a difference and I donít really have a preference. Itís just I want to be saying good words and playing good actions.

Earl Well, thatís wonderful. Thanks for doing it.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator Weíll move to the line of Sabienna Bowman with TV Equals. Please go ahead.

Sabienna Hi, Martin. Itís so nice to speak with you today.

Martin Hello. You, too.

Sabienna I wanted to ask you, what do you think it is about Fargo that sets it apart from other prestiged dramas that are on television right now?

Martin I donít know. I havenít been seeing all of them. And I think there is some really, really good TV on. I donít know, I think thereís room for all of us. Iíll probably be fired for not giving you a quote now that says this is the best thing ever made. I donít know.

I think if people like well-written, well-directed, hopefully, well-acted drama, then they will like Fargo. I donít really know what it makes it unique. There arenít many things set in Minnesota. Maybe itís that. There are not many things that use a classic modern movie as a jumping off point and maybe itís that.

I guess people who loved the film Fargo may love us or they may hate us. I think itíll split people one way or the other. But I do hope and I sort of believe that if people come to it with an open mind, within 10 minutes youíre no longer thinking about the 1996 film. I think you are, sort of my experience of how people have reacted, theyíre pretty engrossed in the world that weíve created.

So, I donít know what makes it unique, but I do know what makes it good and that starts, as all good things do, with a script and itís beautifully shot. And, if I say so myself, not including myself, but itís fantastically cast. I think the cast across the board is phenomenal. So, yeah, I donít know whether thatís unique, but I do know itís good.

Sabienna Thank you so much.

Moderator Weíll go to the line of Mike Gencarelli with MediaMikes. Please go ahead.

Mike Hey, Martin, how are you?

Martin Iím good, thanks, Mike.

Mike I appreciate the time, man. So, listen, youíre no stranger to shorter TV series formats, like Sherlock and along those lines. So, I guess, what did you enjoy most about having this be a limited series of 10 episodes?

Martin Well, I think my general outlook on life is that things should be finite and things are finite. You know, we all die. Everything ends. And so for me the idea of things going on and on and on, I donít always find very attractive. But, you know, if itís a show that I love and it keeps going on and it retains its quality then Iím delighted to be a viewer of it.

But Iíve never done things that have gone on and on. Again, like you say, Sherlock is a finite job. We spend a limited time of the year doing that. Itís not even every year. The Office was 14 episodes totally by design because precisely of what Iím talking about, the attitude of retaining quality and leaving people wanting more rather than leaving people wanting less.

This 10 episodes was kind of a clincher for me. When my agent sent it to me it was with the understanding that she said, you know, you donít go out for American TV because you donít want to sign on for something for six or seven years, but this is 10 episodes. See what you think.

So, that was a big attraction. And then I read it, of course, and thought, well, man, this is going to take up four or five months of my life rather than seven years and Iím in. I like moving on, I like going on to the next thing. I like having something else to look forward to as well. And I do have a low boiling pressure. I just want to do other things. I want to do other stuff. I think thatís basically why it is and I want to leave something, hopefully, leave something behind that people go, oh, that was great, as opposed to, oh, why did they carry on with this? It was good for the first three seasons and then it all went wrong.

Iím well aware that some things donít go wrong after three seasons. Some of my favorite things are fantastic for a long time. But, yeah, for me personally, I like the hit and run approach. I love doing this for a bit and then doing something else for a bit and then doing something else for a bit. Thatís the way Iím hardwired I think.

Mike Thanks so much.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And weíll open the line of Kara Howland, TV Goodness. Please go ahead.

Kara Hi, Martin. How are you?

Martin Iím good. How are you?

Kara Real good. So, I was wondering if you could talk about some of your favorite scenes or moments from the series.

Martin Yes, I will, trying not to give too much away. One of my favorite bits of playing this role, I would have to give a little bit away, that comes later on in the series where ďLesterĒ kind of undergoes; part of his transformation means that there was something about that that was a lot of fun to play, becoming different aspects of ďLester.Ē

I liked that very much. I like playing different aspects of people that surprise the audience and surprise you when youíre playing. And this role afforded that greatly. I love working with Billy Bob, to be quite frank. I love it, I love it. And the limited scenes I had with him were joyful.

I mean itís more kind of memories of the people Iím working with. I love working with Allison [Tolman] and Bob Odenkirk. They were just a joy, yeah, I love it, people that youíre already a fan of is nice in the case of Bob, and people you donít know, but become a fan of in the case of Allison, Iím just so pleased for her. Iím really made up for her. Sheís so good in this series and itís going to completely bamboozle everybody in why they have never heard of her before.

Thatís been a real pleasure to watch that sort of flowering and her growth in the series. Iíve loved that.

Kara Great. Well, thank you so much.

Martin Thank you very much.

Moderator We open the line of Greg Staffa with Your Entertainment Corner. Please go ahead.

Greg Thanks for taking our calls. Greetings from Central Minnesota.

Martin Hello.

Greg Iím hoping that everyone here can understand my Minnesota accent.

Martin I can.

Greg I enjoyed the first four episodes and you talked a little bit about American television and being a little hesitant because it was a six to seven year commitment. Were there any other differences in working, because I believe this is your first American television series.

Martin It is.

Greg Were there any differences in the pacing or how things were approached that were different than what youíre used to? What was the biggest culture shock of coming to Calgary versus the U.K.?

Martin Well, one of the surprising things was the pace. I wasnít used to working that fast. Itís very, very fast. When I found out how long it takes to make an episode of Breaking Bad I couldnít believe it. I really couldnít believe it because I thought, it only takes that long? For something of such quality it must take longer than that. And we were working at a very fast pace as well.

I wasnít used to that, so you have to kind of adjust to that, which was a really good discipline thing for me because youíre aware that if youíve got something to bring, youíd better bring it now because donít bring it in two hours because we wonít be doing that scene in two hours maybe. So, that was great for me.

I loved the breakneck kind of speed of that, but itís a challenge to work at that speed and work well at that speed. And as far as Calgary versus the U.K., itís the coldest Iíve ever been in my life and itís the whitest Iíve ever seen. In Britain we might have snow for, or in my part of Britain, you might have snow for maybe a week or just under a week in a year in which then it turns to slush and black ice very quickly.

There never was no snow on the ground in Calgary from late October to April. So, yeah, Iíve never known that. So, the culture shock was being prepared to be cold all the time that you were out. So, even on a mild day for Calgary in London would be considered a properly cold day. Anything in the minuses, in England weíd be going, oh, thatís a chilly one today whereas I still saw local cowgirl hipsters in espadrilles and no socks, minus 10 sort of thing. So, that was the main culture shock with that.

Greg Well, as a Minnesotan I really enjoyed watching your performance.

Martin Thank you very much. I really did take it, I donít mean seriously like War and Peace, but I didnít want to make a gag of it and I didnít want to kind of laugh at it and I wanted to get it right. I wanted to kind of honor it in a way and not do a sketch version. Because since the film, which, again, the film was superb, but that kind of entered sort of American peopleís and worldwide peopleís idea of what that accent is. And itís very easy to just get into oh, yah. Itís very easy to do that. And there is truth in that.

Most Minnesotans will admit that stereotypes get to be stereotypes for a reason. There is a kernel of truth in there. But thatís not the entire thing and itís not enough just to go, oh yah, every two minutes. So, if I got away with it, Iím more than happy.

Greg Thank you for your time.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator Weíll open the line of Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation. Please go ahead.

Jamie Hi, itís such an honor to speak with you.

Martin Hello, thank you.

Jamie Was there anything about ďLesterĒ that you added to this character that wasnít originally scripted for you? Billy talked a little bit about a haircut. And you look like a little bit thinner in the frame, but other than that was there anything about this role that you added?

Martin I suppose, yeah, because I think there always is and I donít even know what is specific, what I could answer to that. But my job I feel is to take a good script and somehow make it better. And thatís every departmentís job. Itís the camera department and the design department, you know, to make this script, which is hopefully very good, to make it even better.

And so an actorís job is to put flesh on the bones of the character because even though itís fantastically written you donít just see the script up on screen. You know, that would be quite boring if you just read the script. You have to flesh it out and just the physicality, the placement of the voice, yeah, I mean all of that stuff can only be done by an actor.

So, yes, the answer is I hope I would have brought a lot to it, but specifics, I donít really know. But I mean everything that you see on screen, some of thatís Noah and some of itís me.

Jamie Great. Thank you.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator Weíll open the line of Kyle Wilson, The Nerd Repository. Please go ahead.

Kyle Hey, Martin. One of the things about Fargo is itís very macabre, but it also has moments of dark comedy and do you think it was important that you had a background with comedic roles, that you brought that to ďLesterĒ in those moments that are kind of awkward, but funny?

Martin Some of it, yeah. Yes, probably. It certainly doesnít hurt and even when Iím not doing sort of comedic roles I guess comedy will somehow find its way in there just because thatís part of who I am and I think itís part of who we are. I donít think there is; of all my favorite things in the world, that involve acting anyway, there is both of those things.

The Sopranos sometimes really makes me laugh and thatís not a comedy. And sometimes Iím almost crying at the pathos of Laurel and Hardy, which is not a drama. So, I believe in both of those things being there and I donít think itís a big deal by both things being there. So, when ďLesterĒ has moments of comedy as there are in the show, yes, I think, you know, without blowing my own trumpet, I think I can do it. And I think Iím not bad at it, so, yeah, all of that I think it doesnít hurt. I think it all helps stir the pot somehow, yeah.

Kyle Great. Thanks.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And we go to the line of Kelly Schremph, TVRage. Please go ahead.

Kelly Hi, Martin. Itís such a huge honor to be speaking with you. And I love what Iíve seen of Fargo so far. I was curious, do you think ďLesterĒ would have remained timid if he hadnít met Billy Bob Thorntonís character? Or do you think that the descent into the dark side was kind of an inevitable shift for you character?

Martin I donít know. I mean, if it had shifted it just would have taken a lot longer. I think meeting ďLorne MalvoĒ was a hell of a catalyst for him. But he might have ended up picking people off with a gun from the rooftops eventually in 20 years, but the fact that he hammered his wife to death within days, I donít think that would have happened. No, I donít think it would have happened.

All of that would have been repressed and kept to his own nervous system, which is what has made him the way he is for his life thus far, the ďLesterĒ that we first meet, who is almost incapable of showing his true feelings or venting his frustration or his anger. So, I donít know, itís a good question. I think if it would have happened it would have taken a lot longer so, yeah, you have to blame Billy Bob for all that shit.

Kelly Well, thank you so much and I look forward to whatís to come.

Martin Thank you very much.

Moderator Weíll open the line of Greg David, TV Guide Canada.

Greg Thanks, Martin. A question about Noahís scripts. Billy Bob was talking yesterday about how he didnít find that he needed to change anything in the scripts because they were so good. Did you feel the same way?

Martin I did, really, yeah, I did. Thereís the usual things; I would always amend what I think needs amending in the moment really, but I never really got a script and thought, no, this is going to have to change or my notes for Noahís scripts, when he would send me the script, my note was always basically I loved it. That was kind of it, really, and I canít wait to read the next one.

His writing is really good. Itís really spare and quite beautiful, quite poetic in places. So, no, I agree with Billy. There wasnít exactly a lot to do. There was no need to improve it, thatís for sure. It wasnít something you could be really loose with. But sometimes things just donít fit in your mouth right and any writer worth their salt will listen to an actor if theyíre saying, listen, can I just move that around. I think thatís part of a writerís gig and writers, again, writers who are reasonably successful have learned to not be too precious about every syllable.

But having said that, his syllables are pretty good and, yeah, they need very little embellishment from an actor.

Greg Great. Thank you.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And weíll open the line of Max Conte with SpoilerTV. Please go ahead.

Max Hi, Martin. How are you today?

Martin Good, thank you.

Max Well, Iím such a huge fan of the movie and I think itís a real testament to how well the series is written that you managed to keep the tone of the film and also create these completely unique characters just in the pilot episodes. Sorry, go ahead.

Martin No, I was just saying I hope so, yes.

Max Yeah, well, I wondered what it was for you that sort of really set the series apart, aside from just the story itself, but what really set the series apart and made you confident in working on it sort of separate from the film?

Martin I guess at the outset I donít know, thereís a big trust thing. I think you just have to take a leap of faith as so many things are in life and so many jobs are a leap of faith because youíre not seeing the finished result. You canít come in at the end and go, I knew The Godfather was going to X, Y and Z. On the way to making The Godfather, of course, it could have been many other things. Itís all a big leap of faith.

I knew I did not want to be in a rehash of the film. The film is perfectly happy without someone making either a good or bad cover version of it, you know. I didnít want to be in a cover version, certainly didnít want to be doing a cover version of anyone elseís performance. All I knew at the time was I really loved the first script.

And I guess I liked Noahís tone. I had a brief conversation with him and Iíd have to check our e-mails, but he probably said something to put my mind at rest in an e-mail at some point and I canít even remember what that would specifically be. But I know from the outset I would have been pretty vocal about not wanting just to be part of a Fargo tribute band, you know.

Max Yeah, you definitely pulled that off I think.

Martin Well, thank you. Yeah, I think we did. I hope so. From the first, Iíve only seen one. You lot have seen more than I have, but yeah, I donít think youíre thinking too much about the film when youíre watching ours. Hopefully, you get into these characters and these stories as opposed to the ones from the 90s.

Max Definitely. Thank you so much.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator We will open the line of Matt Sheehan with

Matt Hello, Mr. Freeman. Good to talk to you.

Martin Hi, you, too.

Matt Just an observational type question. Of your latest roles for the past few years, youíve done between, in terms of Fargo, Sherlock and even to a minor extent in The Hobbit, you had to create a lot of fresh and new stuff out of something thatís already existed and because Fargo is clearly something that is inspired by, but different characters and Sherlock is modern. Would you care to comment on that and is that something that sort of attracts you to those types of roles?

Martin I have to say no, itís not. And, yes, I have done a lot of adaptations of sort of stuff that is already literature, you know, The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy, which is a series of beloved books on television and radio and with Sherlock and The Hobbit and now this, itís not a plan I can assure you.

I never kind of wake up and think, what next can I be part of, an adaptation of? Itís just purely, and I hope it doesnít get boring to hear it because I kind of almost bore myself saying it, itís just the writing. If something is well written, Iím interested. And if something is not to my taste, then Iím not.

Yeah, itís just an accident really the fact that I seem to have been cast in a few of those things that youíre talking about. But thatís not a plan. Itís not a particular attraction. It could be based on everything or nothing. I love doing completely new stuff. I love doing completely new theater, for instance, he said as heís about to play Richard III.

Iíve spent a long time doing brand new plays and thatís something that I dearly love. So, it is just really what floats my boat at the time and it always comes down to the script and your initial interest is always in that.

Matt Okay, well Iím very happy to talk with you today and good luck in everything.

Martin Thanks a lot.

Moderator And we open the line of Earl Dittman with Digital Journal. Please go ahead.

Earl Okay, Martin, now youíve got me interested here. Now, you mentioned doing hit and run stuff, so in addition to Fargo and now Richard III, what else can we see you coming up in the next 18 months? And can you talk a wee bit about each one of them?

Martin I only know that far ahead. I only know Richard III is going to take me up to the end of September and thatís all I know.

Earl And why Shakespeare?

Martin Why not? Itís a pretty good script. He was good with words and, yeah, Iíve never done Shakespeare professionally. Iíve, obviously, spent a long time at drama school and theater doing it and studying it and liking it. But Iíve never done this play in any capacity and Iíve never done Shakespeare since Iíve left drama school, which I find amazing actually. I canít believe that, but itís true.

So, yeah, when it was offered to me, Jamie Lloyd, the director is a very good young director in England, thought of me for it and I thought, well, I almost want to reward him just for thinking of me. Again, itís a slightly obvious choice I think, casting-wise, and Iím always up for, as I said earlier, confounding other peopleís and my own perceptions of what it is that I do. So, I enjoy that very much.

Despite that, I donít know what comes after that.

Earl Wasnít The Hobbit film in there?

Martin Oh, yeah, thatís true.

Earl Okay, another Hobbit.

Martin Yeah, thatís true. Thanks for reminding me.

Earl And you mentioned youth here, real quickly, whatís the best advice you could give to a young actor or actress starting out in this business to even have the kind of brilliant career you have?

Martin I donít think you could advise that. I think the mistake is playing the result and not the game. I donít think you can think too far ahead in terms of a glowing, glittering career or anything. I think you just have to be in it for the reasons of loving it because youíre going to have to be prepared to never pay the rent and possibly not work for a year, which by anyoneís standards is hard going on the wallet and on the psyche.

So, if you donít love it, youíd better not do it. Thatís the only thing I could really advise. Read, be interested, be interesting, take an interest in history, politics, people, yourself and learn your lines.

Earl Learning your lines.

Martin That would be page one.

Moderator We will open the lines of Graham Day, Agent of Geek. And just as a reminder, you are allowed to ask one question and then re-queue to follow up.

Graham Hi, Martin.

Martin Hi, hello.

Graham Itís a pleasure talking to you. I was just wondering after playing ďLesterĒ now is there anything that you have learned about yourself as an actor having played a kind of character youíve never really played before, a darker character?

Martin I donít know yet. I think a lot of the time you play parts or the things that you learn, you donít quite know what they are until years later maybe. They sort of filter back into your work years later. I remember at drama school people saying this is not necessarily going to make sense to you now, but in five years the pin might drop or whatever.

And that was true. And Iím not quite sure what Iíll take away from this ďLesterĒ year. At the moment, because I only finished a week ago, all I know is that I really enjoyed it. I loved the job and I have hopes that people will like it. But I donít know. It all kind of feeds in in a pretty under the radar way because things arenít planned in that way or specific in that way about, well, Iíll do this and then Iíll learn that.

Iím just going to have to kind of let it live with me for a bit. And Iíve been living with it for about five months and so Iíll decompress now for a bit and then Iíll probably get some perspective on it in a year and go, oh, I thought I was good in that and I wasnít very good in that bit and I like that bit and I didnít like that. So, it will me inform me in some way, in ways I that I donít quite know yet, if you know what I mean.

Graham Yeah. Thanks very much, Martin.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator Weíll open the line of Greg Staffa, Your Entertainment Corner. Please go ahead.

Greg Hi, again, Martin. Youíve done a wide range of things from film to TV and now American TV. What gets you excited about acting and what is it that you look for that keeps on challenging yourself?

Martin Sometimes itís hard to say. Itís like being in love or loving people. If you really sort of say, but what do I love about that person? Sometimes youíve actually got to sit down and think, hang on, do I love them or is this habit or whatever, you know? So, youíve got to kind of think for a minute about whether you do still love something.

And I do that with acting. I do kind of think, sometimes itís really hard and sometimes thereís no doubt, you have mornings where you think, wow, this is boring or Iím cold and wet again and itís quite miserable. And you do definitely have those days, however good your job is. And, believe me, Iíve got a good job.

You do have moments where you do question it. But essentially I do love it. Nothing else gives me the feeling that I get when Iím working on something good, working on something that makes me happy and, most importantly, with other actors who make me happy. For me, itís when Iím working with other people that it brings out the best in me and thatís what really engages me.

The life itself, the job side of it, Iím attracted to because of the turnover. Because, well, again, if you are lucky, and Iím very lucky, if youíre lucky enough to work on a lot of different things you go from job to job and meeting a whole lot of new people. You work with different authorís voices, many of whom are very clever people and very interesting people.

So, you get to kind of invest in a like a different universe every three or six months. And thatís a lovely job. Itís a lovely way to earn your living. So, itís that really. And also what else am I going to do? There isnít a job where people pay you to go shopping for shoes; there isnít a job where people pay you just to sit around playing records, so until there are those things acting will do just fine for me.

Greg Thank you.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator Weíll open the line of Preston Barta with North Texas Daily. Please go ahead.

Preston Hello, Martin.

Martin Hello.

Preston So, one of the things that I really like about ďLesterĒ is how complex he is. Heís a little rough around the edges and I feel like heís one of those characters that weíve kind of been gravitating towards lately, if you look at ďWalter WhiteĒ in Breaking Bad or ďDon DraperĒ in Mad Men. What do you think that says about us as an audience that over the past five or six years that weíve been kind of starting to gravitate towards these rough around the edge kind of characters?

Martin Maybe it means that we are, well, it might mean weíre getting smarter. Weíre demanding more of our characters and of our dramas. It might mean that we are less sure of ourselves, I suppose. So we want to see that reflected in the people we follow on TV.

For me, I mean I donít know where it started, but this modern trend I think you can put a lot of that down to ďTony Soprano,Ē the sort of very, very flawed hero, anti-hero, confounding your expectations of what you think that character is going to be, capable of doing terrible things while also being very attractive and funny and likable.

But, again, those things go back to Greek theater. That in itself is not a new thing. But youíre absolutely right, itís becoming more common on American television. And there is some extremely good American television where that happens more these days.

Maybe it just means weíre getting a bit more sophisticated and demanding a bit more than kind of black and white characters, which Iím all for I must say.

Preston Great, thank you.

Martin Thank you.

Moderator And our last question will come from the line of Jeri Jacquin with Military Press. Please go ahead.

Jeri Hi, Martin. How are you today?

Martin Good, thank you, yeah, very good.

Jeri I asked this of Billy Bob yesterday so I thought itís only fair to ask you. Personally, how much fun did you have playing this role?

Martin How much fun? I had a lot of fun. I loved this job, I loved all of it I have to say. It was tough and it was hard work, like anything is hard work if you want to be good at something, if you want to do it well itís all hard work. But very, very enjoyable as a result of working hard.

Itís all play. My job is to play things. My job isnít to fight things or war things, itís to play things, which is a pretty cool job. And ďLesterĒ was a lovely person to play, I mean, not always lovely, but a lovely challenge to play and the cast and crew and the city of Calgary, it was just a real pleasure. I donít relish the thought of going away from home for months.

I never relish that, so in order for me to say I really, really loved this job thatís quite something because it kept me away from home for a long time, but I wouldnít have been without it. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I had a lot of fun, laughed a lot with some very, very funny people and got to do one of the best scripts Iíve done. So, yeah, Iím happy.

Jeri Well, I agree. It was an amazing performance and we appreciate it so much.

Martin Thanks very much.

Adriana Thanks, everyone for joining us today, especially Martin. We greatly appreciate all of your time. As a reminder, Fargo premieres Tuesday, April 15th at 10:00 p.m. only on FX. A complete transcript of this call will be e-mailed to you within 72 hours. You may now disconnect.

Martin Thanks, folks.

Back to the Main Articles Page

Back to the Main Primetime TV Page

We need more episode guide recap writers, article writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so please email us if you can help out!  More volunteers always needed!  Thanks!

Page updated 4/15/14

ComedyDramaSci fi and FantasySoap OperasCompetition

Bookmark this section!
HomeDaytimePrimetimeTradingSite MapBuy!What's New!
Join UsAbout UsContactContestsBlogHelpCommunity