[From Slough to Middle Earth] Chapter 4
The tragic event was this sudden passing of Martin’s father, Gregory, following a heart attack. The news devastated Martin and the entire Freeman family. In the aftermath of his father’s death, Martin moved in with his mother who has now remarried. Her new husband, Martin’s stepfather, was called James, and according to a comment by Martin in an interview with The Scotsman and 2009, ‘ran pubs’ as his line of work.
The impact on Martin of losing a parent would have been enormous. Despite this, he was determined to put on a brave face though, as he recalled in a 2009 interview with The Daily Mail, ‘My dad’s death was no picnic, but when I was younger, I was hell-bent on not looking bothered by it. I had a bit of an “I’ll-be-alright feeling about it. But then when I was 17 or 18 I thought “I’m alright”, but that wasn’t great.’
By the time he had won himself a place on the British national squash team, a step up from playing for the Surrey squash squad. The more expert he became and the more he competed, the more his family began to suspect that his future was to be that professional squash player.
Martin was also keen on playing and watching football and sometimes enjoyed daydreams in which he transformed himself – as if acting – into the character of whichever celebrated footballer he was in awe of at the time.
And a 2009 interview with The Daily Mail Martin recalled, “I always inhabited another world in my head, whether it was pretending to be a footballer or in a band, I was always somewhere else. I wasn’t quite Rain Man, but I definitely had some parallel universe going on.”
When he turned 11, Martin started at Salesian School, a Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic comprehensive secondary school in the town of Chertsey.
As Martin settled into Salesian, he began to devour more films and ever before. His favorite film at the time was Sleuth (1972), starring Lawrence Olivier and Michael Caine. He told The Daily Express in 2012 how much watching the film was a daily ritual, “I used to watch Sleuth with Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier every day as a kid. I was 11 and I loved it. I thought, ‘I could do this acting lark.”
In terms of setting a key influence, Sleuth also the notion to Martin that Michael Caine was a great actor. He has since said often that Michael Caine is one of the reasons I wanted to become an actor.
Aside from Sleuth, Martin was also an avid fan of The Goodies, a comic British TV show, starring Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, which enjoyed its successful run on British TV from 1970 to 1982.
Other shows that Martin enjoyed included mighty Python’s Flying Circus, the good life, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and Fawlty Towers.
Another key influence for Martin occurred when he read Animal Farm by George Orwell at school. He has said in interviews that the book has remained a personal favorite of his and that he has since read his way through all of Orwell’s works.
Adding to his original catalog of style icons that included Paul Weller, Steve Marriott, Terry Hall, Jerry Dammers, and Michael Caine, came several new sartorial heroes: reggae musician Peter Tosh and the American actor Steve McQueen.
Meanwhile, Martin further developed his interest in acting by appearing in school plays, but told The Press in 2009 that doing so threw up social conflicts with fellow classmates, “If I was into it, I was so in embarrassed about being into it, that I had to justify to my friends who are shouting at me from outside, ‘Why aren’t you playing football? You’re dressed as a monk.”
As acting and music started to rise to the top of the teenage Martin’s agenda, he conversely lost interest and squash.
But once Martin started wading into his teens, the agenda changed as he told The Hunger in 2012′ “You discover other things. Usually, people say something rock ‘n’ roll like, ‘I discovered girls’, but I didn’t discover girls when I was 14, I have to say.” Even if it wasn’t girls, Martin what is however about to discover a lasting passion that would take over from squash, and promise a bright, exciting future.
More Freeman Fun soon!!