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Martin Freeman says horror is part of his 'DNA as a British person'




Martin Freeman revisits the vintage British horror films of his youth in
Martin Freeman revisits the vintage British horror films of his youth in "Ghost Stories."
IFC Midnight
Martin Freeman revisits the vintage British horror films of his youth in
(L-R) Kristina Ceyton, Yolanda Ramke, Martin Freeman and Ben Howling attend a screening of "Cargo" during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival


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Actor Martin Freeman has had a very prolific career... so far. 

Since starring in the 2001 British series, 'The Office,' he's been in the hit TV shows ‘Fargo’ and ‘Sherlock’ as well as films such as Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’ and Marvel’s 'Black Panther.'

But now he’s working on two small-scale horror films.

In the Netflix movie ‘Cargo' he crosses the Australian outback pursued by zombies with an infant on his back and a young girl played by Simone Landers in tow. And in ‘Ghost Stories’ he’s an arrogant ex-banker haunted by a poltergeist.

Ghost Stories

Jump scares abound in both films, which hearken back to the British horror tradition that reached its popularity in the 1960s and '70s.

Oddly enough, both of these movies had two-person director teams. Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke directed ‘Cargo,' and Jeremy Dyson and Andy Ryman directed ‘Ghost Stories.’

Interview Highlights:

On having two directors on one film:

I rather like it because you get a bit of variation. And as long as it's not confusing variation and conflicting direction, I kind of like the fact that I'll go to him for this and to her for that. It takes some pressure off a single person if they can lean on another person. That's, of course, if the chemistry is right. If it's two people who are not getting on or two people who engage in a power dynamic then that's not great for anybody involved, because then you're just getting ego or weirdness. 

On what "Ghost Stories" shares with vintage British horror:

I guess it shares the mechanics of that in that there's three horror stories within the same film. Andy Nyman's character Phillip Goodman, he goes through all of those stories. In that sense it's very much influenced by all of those anthology films. Actual content wise, I think it's really original and very much it's own voice. But obviously Andy and Jeremy are of the generation in my country – and so am I – where you know you grew up watching horror films on the television that were made often between the fifties and the seventies. That were not always but often British. From The Hammer and Amicus staples, for instance. They're kind of part of your DNA as a British person.

The Skull

On what makes horror anthologies work:

We like seeing the effect that an object or a person has on different people maybe in different eras. Some of those films might start off in the early 19th century and then come up to the modern day. And each little vignette will determine whatever common denominator there is, be it a person, a presence, or an object. It's a bit more psychological than a nail being driven into someone's skull. It's the idea that in horror the most horrifying thing is what is contained in ourselves. 

On how he embodies a character:

My approach differs for as many roles as I have. Sometimes you pick up a bit of an animal, or sometimes you pick up a bit of a walk. And sometimes you frankly don't need to do any of that. It just comes all unconsciously and immediately. But with Mike Priddle, he's a very rich man, a banker. He's an arrogant, not very empathetic person. There's a scene where he's walking around this soon-to-be child's nursery and you can see it. His center is his pelvis. So he walks basically from his genitals. We all lead with something so I thought ​I'm going to make his center his sexual center.​ 

'Cargo' premiers on Netflix, May 18. 'Ghost Stories' is in theaters now.



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