Martin Freeman Pushes Back on Backlash to Age Gap with Jenna Ortega


Martin Freeman is responding to some of the backlash concerning the age gap between him and his Miller’s Girl costar Jenna Ortega.

In the film, Ortega, 21, plays a writing student named Cairo Sweet, who “embarks on a creative odyssey when her teacher (played by Freeman, 52) assigns a project that entangles them both in an increasingly complex web,” per a synopsis.

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“As lines blur and their lives intertwine, professor and protégé must confront their darkest selves while straining to preserve their individual sense of purpose and the things they hold most dear,” the synopsis adds.

Speaking with U.K. outlet The Times for an interview published Saturday, April 27, Freeman said that the film is “grown-up and nuanced. It’s not saying, ‘Isn’t this great?’ ”

“And that’s a shame,” the English actor added, of general backlash against films that tell challenging stories. “Are we gonna have a go at Liam Neeson for being in a film about the Holocaust?”

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Martin Freeman in Miller’s Girl (2024).

Zac Popik/Lionsgate

After some people on social media expressed shock about a sex scene between Ortega and Freeman, the Miller’s Girl intimacy coordinator, Kristina Arjona, assured in an interview that the costars were “comfortable” when filming and depicting the dynamics of the subject matter.

“There [were] many, many people throughout this process engaging with [Jenna] to make sure that it was consistent with what she was comfortable with, and she was very determined and very sure of what she wanted to do,” Arjona the Daily Mail in February.

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“Part of my job too is supporting her decisions. I adapt to whatever is the comfort level of my actors, especially on a production like this where there is a large age gap between the actors,” added Arjona. “I’m hyper aware of both of my talent and making sure that we’re consistently checking in and that at no point are any of their boundaries being surpassed.”

“And, again, making sure — especially with someone who’s significantly younger — that they are giving continuous consent,” she added.

Reps for Ortega and Freeman did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment at the time.

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Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman on the poster for Miller’s Girl (2024).

Courtesy of Lionsgate

Freeman recalled in an interview with Collider back in August 2023 that he thought Miller’s Girl had a “gutsy” screenplay — one that is also, admittedly, “very uncomfortable.”

“There are things in it which are not cut and dry, and not black and white. Certainly there are conversations around it, at the moment and over the last several years, particularly,” said the Black Panther star. “It comes into a world where those conversations are being had, slightly from left field, and says, ‘Yes, what about this?’ It’s interesting.”

He also raved about working with the “amazing” Ortega on the film, calling the Wednesday actress “extremely talented, super smart, great to work with and very, very wise beyond her years.”

“That was a real pleasure,” Freeman added. “The whole experience of shooting that was lovely. It was a nice little five to six weeks in Georgia. It was a lovely summer and fall, for a story that I really believed in.”

Miller’s Girl is now streaming on Netflix.

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