Sure, he's about to be vaulted into superstardom, but if the movie offers ever start to run dry, it's good to know that Martin Freeman has a pretty decent backup career option.
As the leading man of The Hobbit prepares to premiere the fantasy epic in New York on Thursday, a short film he made two years ago has surfaced online. In filmmaker Tim Bunn's The Girl Is Mime, Freeman plays a mime accused of murdering his wife after their sweet relationship turns sour. The nearly-six minute film features Freeman in full traditional mime garb, including a white-painted face with features flecked with black.
Bunn, whose co-writer and co-producer knew Freeman from working together on the charity film HIV: The Musical, created the project for the 48 Hour Film Contest. Freeman, he said, "very generously gave us his Saturday" after being asked by another mutual friend, but he wasn't originally aware that he'd have to play a mime.
"Initially we were a little bit worried about telling him, in case he wasn't keen," Bunn told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. "But he wasn't fazed at all. I think he enjoyed the challenge of having very little time to produce a brilliant and believable character. He'd literally just found out (the day before, I believe) that he was going to play Bilbo, so he was going to have to get used to time in the makeup chair."
For a rookie filmmaker, Freeman turned out to be a dream to work with.
"Ultimately, he was the most experienced and most professional person on set - and his performance makes the film what it is," Bunn said. "Much of the little performances nuances for Clive [the mime] weren't in the script, they were just things he was throwing in to the very brief rehearsals we did before shooting a scene. You don't really need to direct someone who's that good, you just go 'yes, that was perfect - let's move on.'"
The film, which has played in several festivals, was just recently uploaded to the Internet, making for an amusing second debut for the man who will be seen racing across massive theater screens in cutting edge 48 frames per second picture. Smartly, Bunn warns against mixing up the two characters.
"I'm not sure Bilbo Baggins would work as a mime," he joked. "In times of peril, I think it's important to communicate quickly and effectively, otherwise you're gonna end up with a lot of dead dwarves. Sometimes actions DON'T speak louder than words."
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