Martin Freeman Defends ‘Miller’s Girl’ Role Over Jenna Ortega Age Gap Backlash

Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega briefly found themselves subjected to some online backlash in January when they co-starred in “Miller’s Girl,” Jade Halley Bartlett’s film about an 18-year-old student who develops a crush on her 49-year-old English teacher and enters a romantic relationship with him. But while some fans were offended by the film’s content and the reality that the two actors had to film intimate scenes despite a 31 year age gap between them — a controversy that has been stoked by the film’s resurgence on Netflix — Freeman stands by his involvement in the film.

In a recent interview with The Times of London, Freeman lamented the fact that the film has been the subject of online ire. The British actor called it “a shame” that the film, which he described as “grown-up and nuanced,” was being interpreted as scandalous. He went on to draw a distinction between committing malicious acts in real life and portraying them onscreen, explaining that actors should not be held accountable for the actions of their fictional characters.

“It’s not saying, ‘Isn’t this great?’” Freeman said of the film’s portrayal of student-teacher relationships. “Are we going to have a go at Liam Neeson for being in a film about the Holocaust?”

Despite the chorus of negative voices who disapproved of the film’s premise, many critics who engaged with its substance pointed out that Bartlett found a way to offer a nuanced portrayal of a problematic situation.

“The intricacy of where to place blame in ‘Miller’s Girl’ makes the film one worth talking about. [Ortega’s character] alleges that Mr. Miller built the environment by which the lines between teacher and student were blurred; while their relationship was never physically intimate, the shared reliance on each other for inspiration made for an inappropriate layer,” IndieWire’s Samantha Bergeson wrote in her review of the film. “There is no hero or villain, only a murky undercurrent questioning whether having a muse is inherently predatory or not. And that story is worth writing.”

SOURCE: Indie Wire

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