Martin Freeman, known for the MCU and The Hobbit, faces controversy over past potentially racist, anti-gay, and anti-Islamic comments resurfacing on social media.
In a 2013 interview, Martin sparked criticism for an insensitive joke about dating elves, making a reference to date rape, raising concerns about his humor in inappropriate contexts.
Martin admitted to smacking his children and using inappropriate language, acknowledging imperfections in parenting. Despite the controversies, his political affiliation with Britain's Labour Party adds complexity to his public image.
Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault.
We all like to think we know celebrities as if they’re our friends, but in reality, we don’t know them at all. Sometimes we think that there’s no way a certain actor could be flawed. However, actors play the part of a public figure as much as they play the roles in their films and television shows. Martin Freeman is one such actor, whose persona behind doors could be considered controversial.
Martin is known for his roles as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, Watson in Sherlock, Everett K. Ross in the MCU, a hilarious sex scene stand-in in Love Actually, and of course, Tim in the UK’s The Office. But behind his nice guy on-screen persona are some controversial comments that could be dug up and repeated at any moment.
Martin Freeman has said controversial things throughout the years that could be perceived as racist, anti-gay, and anti-Islam.
As he is set to appear opposite Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl, Twitter user Max dug up Martin’s past and stirred some controversy. “A reminder that Martin Freeman is a racist, misogynistic homophobe, a rape apologist, [and] a classist [Islamophobe] who hits his children, and yet he’s still employed,” Max tweeted. With his tweet, he shared quotes from interviews with Martin that support this.
In May 2008, Martin was profiled by The Daily Mail, one of several right-wing tabloid websites in the UK. While Martin may have been trolling them slightly, he made several statements that could definitely be racist and anti-gay, including saying the n-word and referring to gay people as “poofs.”
When asked about living in his neighborhood of Hertfordshire in the outskirts of London, Martin explained, "When I moved up here this woman I know said, 'Ooh! There are a lot of whiteys up there,' and I said, 'I love white people; I've no problem with them at all.’”
While Martin goes on to make some even more problematic comments, he could have been using his trademark dry humor and tone to comment on gentrification. It’s okay to live in neighborhoods that aren’t diverse, even if it’s seen as “uncool.”
"Multiculturalism hasn't and doesn't help, because rightly or wrongly it polarises people so much," he continues.
"Racism is one thing — and I don't agree with that in any form — but noticing that there are differences is normal and fine and to be encouraged. We've reached a state now where it's, 'You shouldn't notice. Why are you noticing he's got a bomb and has a beard and is Muslim and wants to kill your family?’” That is more clearly anti-Islam because Martin is insinuating that all Muslims want to kill people’s families.
Even more problematic, Martin goes on to discuss how his tastes in music have shifted over the years. "I really liked hip-hop until the gangsta rap took over,” he said. “I come from a time when not every rap record was 'n---a' this and 'n---a' that; an earlier socially and morally conscious hip-hop sensibility, when it was, 'Don't call people n---a.’" The difference is that Martin actually said that, and we’re pretty sure that by 2008, people knew not to say the n-word.
And continuing that statement, he said he no longer likes hip-hop. "But now it's n---a, n---a, n---a, and it's not funny or interesting politically, artistically, or socially. I really don't like it,” he said. Perhaps he’s not been listening to the lyrics or taking all hip-hop music into account, because there are definitely artists, and more specifically Black artists, who are making social and political points through their music.
Martin has also said some misogynistic things and has even admitted to smacking his children.
In 2013, while on his press tour for The Hobbit, Martin was asked by a Danish interviewer (via Metro) who he’d most like to date: a dwarf, a hobbit, or an elf. But Martin’s answer may have taken the question a little too far. “Elf, definitely. Because look at them; they’re beautiful. Men or women,” he answered.
But he kept going when the reporter asked about the height difference and turned his harmless answer into a date rape joke. “I’ve got a ladder. It’s fine,” he said. “And I’ve got drugs. I could just make them — you know. Slip them something in their goblet. Some will get offended by that now. Cause they’ll call it rape or whatever. But, um, you know. For me, it’s a helping hand. Maybe I should stop talking.”
Yes, stop talking, Martin! Maybe it was just a joke, but it was a pretty insensitive one. Perhaps his dry sense of humor thought it was a fun way to make light of dating a magical creature while commenting on the lengths men will go to sleep with someone, but this interview is not the right context to do so.
Perhaps the worst allegation against Martin is how he’s admitted to smacking his kids and calling them “little f---ers.” Obviously, that’s inappropriate. “I’ve probably smacked twice, but I’ve called them little f---ers more than twice,” he told The Times. “I know I’m not supposed to do it, but there are so many images about how [parenting] all just has to be brilliant that it makes people feel bad.”
In doing this, he was trying to promote the image that parents aren’t perfect and that there’s no way to parent perfectly. But that still doesn’t make it OK to hit your kids.
Despite all of this, Martin is an avid member of Britain’s Labour Party, which was anti-Brexit and pro-worker’s rights. It’s essentially the UK’s left-wing political party, so if his politics say anything about Martin’s beliefs and statements, we’re hoping that he’s not all bad.