'Grown Up And Nuanced': Martin Freeman Addresses Criticism Over Age Gap For Getting Cast Against Jenna Ortega

Martin Freeman addressed the controversy caused by his latest film, Miller's Girl, in which he stars opposite Jenna Ortega, who is 31 years younger than him.

Updated on May 30, 2024  |  11:04 AM IST |  88.7K
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Martin Freeman (PC: IMDb)

Martin Freeman defended his new film, Miller’s Girl, from the criticism it has received for the age gap between him and his co-star, Jenna Ortega. Following the film’s US release in early February, several viewers expressed discomfort with one particular scene in the movie, which saw Freeman and Ortega engage in a sexual act.

Miller's Girl is a 2024 American erotic thriller film written and directed by Jade Halley Bartlett. The film stars Ortega and Freeman as a student and teacher who enter into a complicated relationship after a creative writing assignment.

Martin Freeman opened up about the criticisms recieved by Miller's Girl 

Martin Freeman has addressed the controversy surrounding his Netflix film Miller's Girl, which stars Jenna Ortega, who is 31 years younger than him. The film, which follows a high-school student's sexual relationship with her English teacher, has been criticized for its age gap and romanticizing the relationship between minors and those in power. The film was released on Netflix on April 25.

Speaking with The Times of London for an interview published Saturday, Freeman defended Miller's Girl as "grown-up and nuanced." "It's not saying, 'Isn't this great,'" he said of the film's dynamic between his character and Ortega's. Freeman said the film had been "tainted by association" with a difficult subject.

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Miller's Girl (PC: IMDb)

He further said that derision wasn't distributed equally, though — saying that people seemed to understand the level of distance involved in stories depicting Nazism.

"Are we gonna have a go at Liam Neeson for being in a film about the Holocaust?" he asked, referring to Neeson's starring role in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List.

Earlier this year, the Miller’s Girl intimacy coordinator talked about how Ortega was involved in planning the intimate scenes.

“There was many, many people throughout this process, engaging with [Ortega] to make sure that it was consistent with what she was comfortable with, and she was very determined and very sure of what she wanted to do,” Kristina Arjona told the Daily Mail in February. “I’m hyper aware of both of my talent and making sure that we’re consistently checking in and that at no point are any of their boundaries being surpassed.”

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What is Miller's Girl about?

Miller's Girl's story revolves around Cairo Sweet, an 18-year-old girl, who lives alone in her wealthy family's mansion in Tennessee. Her attorney parents are away on a business trip while she completes her senior year in high school.

Cairo takes the creative writing class of teacher Jonathan Miller, and impresses him with her wide knowledge in literature and her familiarity with Miller's own book, Apostrophes and Ampersands. Miller has not written since he got married and started teaching. His emotionally unavailable wife, Beatrice, is a more successful author who disdains her husband's lack of ambition and failure to write new material.

Cairo struggles to find a suitable college admission essay for Yale University, focusing on "the greatest achievement to date." Her best friend Winnie tells her to experience the excitement of a teacher-student affair such as she intends to do with the school's gym teacher Boris Fillmore, who is Miller's best friend. She sees the intellectual connection between Cairo and Miller and suggests seducing him.

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Miller's Girl (PC: IMDb)

Cairo and Miller spend more time together, sharing interests in novels, poems, and Tennesseean culture. Miller assigns Cairo to write a short story in her favorite author's style, and she chooses Henry Miller. Despite initial reluctance, Miller approves.

When Miller accidentally takes Cairo's phone, she asks him to return it. Inspired, she writes an erotic short story about a teacher-student sexual relationship. Miller gets aroused and eventually masturbates while reading the story alone.

Miller rejects the story and demands Cairo to rewrite it, but Cairo is criticized for his hypocrisy. In revenge, Cairo sends the story to Joyce Manor, the school's vice principal, to expose a possible affair. She also exploits Winnie's attraction by sending sexual photos to Fillmore, leading to passionate kisses.

The vice principal questions Cairo and Miller about their relationship, leading to Miller's suspension. Fillmore blames him for not knowing his limits as a teacher. Miller's anger is fueled by an argument with Beatrice, prompting him to point out the nature of their marriage and vent his repressed anger at his wife.

Realizing what Cairo's actions had done to Miller, Winnie asks her to withdraw the charges against him, but Cairo refuses, calling Miller's downfall her "greatest achievement to date". She writes her experiences into her admission essay in the same style Miller used in his book. Miller, having reached rock bottom but inspired for the first time in years, decides to write a new book.

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ALSO READ: Was Jenna Ortega Comfortable About Filming Controversial Miller's Girl Scene With Martin Freeman? Intimacy Coach Reveals Amid Online Backlash

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