Veteran actor Martin Freeman sports a scruffy beard and crewcut for his starring role as a sketchy cop in The Responder, a new drama series on BritBox.
“As soon as I read the script, I knew what he was going to look like,” Freeman, 50, told the Post of his on-screen alter ego. “I could see someone with a skinhead and a beard, oddly enough. I don’t always have a strong image of someone when I read a script, but… I was able to see them as they look on the show.
“I don’t know why, but it just looked right.”
The six-part police procedure, which premiered on BBC One in the UK and will return for a second season, was developed and written by Tony Schumacher, a former Liverpool police officer turned novelist. It follows Chris Carson (Freeman) as he struggles with a bevy of personal demons, including panic attacks, that are interfering with his already fragile marriage to Kate (MyAnna Buring) and his relationship with their young daughter Tilly. A former police inspector, demoted to night shift due to allegations that he was “bent” (a dirty cop), he now patrols the streets of Liverpool as “The Responder” to deal with situations ranging from pedestrians to the dangerous. (The series was filmed on location.) He’s also in league with an old friend, Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart), who deals drugs for a local syndicate — and who leads Chris down a dark path that a teenage junkie is taking , Casey (Emily), Fairn is involved) and the cocaine she stole from his bosses.
“When we meet [Chris] He’s already on quite a downward spiral… he’s trying to keep track of his work, and in the first episode he gets information about a young woman [Casey] whom he vaguely knows from an old friend of his [Carl] and it was pulled in all sorts of directions from the start,” Freeman said. “He has his oldest friend who may have a reason to hurt this vulnerable young girl… he has a failing marriage and a patchy relationship with his young daughter, whom he loves dearly, but given his work schedule, [he’s] rarely there. He is not satisfied in any area of his life.
“He’s like a thread that’s constantly being pulled,” he said. “I think there’s light on the horizon because he’s confident; he wants to save his relationship with his wife and daughter, and for most people who break up, their relationship with their children, if they have any, is often a saving grace because at least it gives them structure, an anchor, and that is his true north – but there are awfully many obstacles in the way.”
Those obstacles include Ray Mullen (Warren Brown), a former colleague who is convinced Chris is dirty and who launches a rogue operation to apprehend him – while he’s sleeping with Kate – and Chris’ new partner, downright rookie Rachel Hargreaves (Adelayo Adedayo). ), who is suspicious of his patchy workplace ethics when it begins to invade her professional and personal life.
The Respondent isn’t the first role in a police trial for Freeman, whose long résumé includes The Office (the original series starring Ricky Gervais), Breeders, which currently airs on FX with co-star Daisy Haggard, Sherlock includes. (opposite Benedict Cumberbatch), “Fargo” and his role as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit film series.
“I did [a procedural] called The Confession in the UK a few years ago where I played a detective. It was based on a true story about a murder investigation,” he said. “But whether [Chris] is a copper or not, that felt particularly different – everything from the physicality to the [Liverpudlian] Accent on the tunnel he makes throughout the series.
“There’s a bit of humor thrown in there … and I should add that some hilarious jokes are thrown in,” he said. “It’s not all dark; People need a little relief, and you can’t have every episode with horrible things happening.
“People will always find a way to push through things, and usually that’s humor.”