Martin Freeman breaks silence on backlash over 31-year age gap with Miller’s Girl co-star Jenna Ortega

The actors co-starred in thriller about a university student who engages in an affair with her English professor

Inga Parkel
Monday 29 April 2024 20:40 BST
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Martin Freeman has addressed the backlash over his 31-year age gap with his Miller’s Girl co-star Jenna Ortega.

Ortega, 21, and Freeman, 52, star in director Jade Bartlett’s recently released thriller about a university student, Cairo (Ortega), who embarks on a complicated and inappropriate love affair with her English professor, Jonathan Miller (Freeman).

Following the film’s US release in early February, several viewers expressed discomfort with one particular scene in the movie, which saw Jonathan and Cairo engage in a sexual act.

“MARTIN FREEMAN WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO JENNA ORTEGA,” one person tweeted at the time, with another adding: “Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman… I’m uncomfortable.”

Responding to the strong online reaction in a new interview with The Times, Freeman insisted the movie is “grown-up and nuanced. It’s not saying, ‘Isn’t this great?’”

Of the overall backlash films with controversial messages face, The Hobbit actor added: “And that’s a shame. Are we gonna have a go at Liam Neeson for being in a film about the Holocaust?”

Neeson led the 1993 war drama Schindler’s List.

Martin Freeman as Jonathan Miller and Jenna Ortega as Cairo in ‘Miller’s Girl’
Martin Freeman as Jonathan Miller and Jenna Ortega as Cairo in ‘Miller’s Girl’ (© 2023 Lionsgate)

Immediately after fan criticism began to mount, Miller’s Girl’s on-set intimacy coordinator, Kristina Arjona, assured viewers that Ortega was “comfortable” and “very sure” of her sex scenes.

“There was many, many people throughout this process, engaging with [Ortega] 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 told The Daily Mail in February.

“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.”

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Arjona also said that she, Ortega and Freeman had several open conversations about the use of modesty garments and barriers to ensure there was “appropriate distance” between the actors while filming any sex and nude scenes.

She confirmed that the actors “also have the option on the day to change their mind if they don’t want to do any of the elements that we’ve discussed”.

Freeman previously spoke with Collider about the film’s content, saying: “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," the British actor said. “It comes into a world where those conversations are being had, slightly from left field, and says, ‘Yes, what about this?’ It’s interesting.”

Miller’s Girl is streaming on Netflix.

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