Martin Freeman on ‘Breeders,’ Socially Distanced Shoots and Returning to Work

Breeders FX
Courtesy of FX

Like most of us these days, “Black Panther” and “Sherlock” star Martin Freeman’s life is on hold and he is stuck at home. Planned film and TV projects for the in-demand actor are either postponed or up in the air.

“I’m not doing that much apart from reading and trying to keep fit to make sure I don’t eat myself into oblivion,” says Freeman, speaking from his house in the U.K.

Freeman is talking just ahead of the finale next week of his well-received 10-episode parenting comedy “Breeders,” which debuted on FX and Hulu in the U.S. and Sky in the U.K. at the beginning of March, just ahead of coronavirus lockdowns.

Freeman, who also co-created the show, stars as a caring but stressed father in the Avalon Television production, alongside on-screen partner Daisy Haggard (“Back to Life”). Both their characters juggle full-time careers, ageing parents, a mortgage, upheavals in their relationship and the full-on challenges of parenting young children.

The big question, of course, is the timing of a show about the confines of parenting airing just as many families are locked down in close proximity with their own children. Freeman’s two children in real life are 11 and 14, older and a more manageable age than the demanding, sleep-depriving young kids he lovingly but often ineptly parents in “Breeders.”

He admits that for families “in the eye of the storm” with young kids, the choice of taking time out from parenting to watch a show about parenting “could go either way.”

“It’s like watching a show about coronavirus while in the middle of coronavirus. It might not be something you want to do — maybe you need a minute.” But, he adds: “If you are a bit removed from it, with a bit of perspective on those very challenging early years with children, maybe it’s safe to watch.”

Freeman says he’s keen to make a second season of “Breeders” if it gets picked up, noting he and his co-creators, “Veep” executive producers Simon Blackwell and Chris Addison, “have lots more we want to do with it and the characters,” through the different stages of parenting as children get older.

In the meantime, Freeman is plotting his next work projects for when productions get up and running again.

This week, the actor has been in touch with the team behind BBC drama “The Responder,” in which he is set to star as a night shift officer in the city of Liverpool. The Dancing Ledge production for BBC Two was meant to shoot in the autumn but will likely now have to be rescheduled.

Coming up also is a one-day shoot under “social distancing rules” for a “nice, tasty and exciting” — and unnamed — job for the BBC, for which Freeman is learning the script. Otherwise he is speaking to directors and producers via Zoom and Facetime, “talking about stuff that, please God, will come at some point,” he says.

This, of course, also applies to the sequel to hit Marvel film “Black Panther,” in which Freeman stars as one of the few white characters, Everett Ross. “It’s a big ship,” says Freeman of the franchise’s next outing, which will still debut May 6, 2022.

Freeman says coyly, “I have got a couple of things in the queue that I was going to be doing before ‘Black Panther.’ But then of course Marvel have dibs on me.”

Freeman speaks for many when he says he only wants to return to work when it’s safe to do so.

He was filming in Los Angeles in mid-March, and just had time before lockdown to complete his scenes on Peacock limited series “Angelyne,” about the Los Angeles billboard icon, starring Emmy Rossum. “They shot me out a tiny bit quicker and got me on a plane just as the world started to change.”

He was then due to do a read-through for another project, but it became clear very quickly that it was not going to be fully safe to do so. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ If everything we are hearing is, ‘This isn’t safe,’ who wants to risk it?” says Freeman.

The actor, however, is quick to put his fears and worries within the wider context of what is going on in the world. “It’s obviously very frightening for a lot of people and it’s been life-changing and tragic for lot of people.

“For me, it’s manageable. The truth is, (it’s) not too bad. I miss people and going out, and all the stuff everyone misses. But I’ve got a garden and I’ve got a place where I can hang out with the kids, and the weather is fortunately lovely so we can be outside. I can’t imagine if you can’t be outside — it would be different ball game,” says Freeman.